NOTEBOOK: Gordon offers advice to his successors
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Gordon opened the door for an entire generation of young NASCAR drivers. Until Gordon arrived on the scene, it was uncommon for young drivers to get a shot at top-flight equipment.
Asked for advice to the young drivers following in his footsteps, Gordon said, My advice is to work hard, win races and try to get yourself to the right place at the right time.”
Recalling his roots, and the encouragement of John Bickford, his stepfather, Gordon recalled, “He made me have to work at it. It didn’t come easily.
“I’ve seen guys get to the Cup level and not be the most talented race car drivers that exist out there, but they worked so hard at it that they took the talent that they had and meshed that with work ethic and made for a very successful career. Sometimes having a lot of natural talent makes you lazy and you don’t work hard enough at it. There’s a fine line there; a combination between the two.”
Fords are cool: If the Ford drivers have an edge in the 500, it’s based on superior cooling characteristics of the engines.
“It seems like we are definitely doing a better job than our competitors in the cooling area,” Ford engine guru Doug Yates said. “We saw last year with this engine that it does a really nice job. In a perfect world, I think we would prefer the weather to be hot like it was earlier in the week.
“Who knows what we will get (Sunday) with the rain coming in and everything? … Hopefully (we) can keep pressing forward on and keep that for a while.”
Yikes: NASCAR’s strategy to minimize tag-team drafting is based on discouraging it by causing the cars to overheat while paired in tandems.
“There are two reasons to that, and part of it is just the rules package the way the cars are drafting,” Ryan Newman said. “The second part of it is the cars are getting so hot. My feet were glowing inside the race car just from heat off the firewall. My pinky toe was lying up against the side of the foot rest, and wherever there was any contact on metal, it was hot.
“We are doing everything we can to get the cars cooled off. That means staggering out and getting some air and things like that. I think there are times when guys are paying more attention to their gauges than they are where they are going. I don’t know where that makes for the best racing.”
Quick laps: John King became the sixth consecutive Toyota driver to win the Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona on Friday night. … The green flag for the 500 will be delivered to the flagstand by the stars of the upcoming “The Three Stoogses” movie. …
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton