BUSCH: Up close with Tina Gordon

Cedar Bluff, Alabama native Tina Gordon is a self proclaimed "tough girl". Growing up in a town with one stoplight, a lot of her neighbors still think she's nuts for strapping herself into a racecar and rocketing around the track every weekend at...

Cedar Bluff, Alabama native Tina Gordon is a self proclaimed "tough girl". Growing up in a town with one stoplight, a lot of her neighbors still think she's nuts for strapping herself into a racecar and rocketing around the track every weekend at 180+ mph.

After two severe crashes in the last two year's, even her biggest fan, Gordon's 13-year-old son Seth, wished Mom would hang up her pit suit. Gordon suffered severe right foot and leg injuries at an ARCA event at Charlotte in 2002, and then during the Atlanta truck race this year, Gordon broke her left foot.

"The thing at Charlotte was a little delayed by the time I took the hit," reminisced Gordon. "You think why wasn't their spotter on the radio telling them to look for a car low. Eight seconds is a long time. The thing at Atlanta, I heard some people say that probably could have been avoided.

"But I don't know. When Rick (Crawford) come out, and he and Dennis Setzer were running nose-to-tail and I was sitting there in the middle of the track. Rick just kind of peaked out, and I was right there. It was just one of those quick things that just happened, and he just hit me and sort of slung me in front of Hank Parker, Jr.

"I don't think it was anything that could have been avoided."

Gordon just feels lucky that she has been able to mend from two intense wrecks, and continue to have a competitive edge and the courage to keep racing, although at times she must feel like she has a bizarre "foot curse" hanging over her.

"It was a little tough to swallow," Gordon said of the second broken extremity. "I was thinking here I am two years later breaking my right leg, and I still had a little bit of a limp from my left leg. I told everyone I had to break my right leg just so I could walk straight. I am still pretty sore on the right leg, and I wear a brace on that leg; just when I am in the car, not when I am out here walking around.

"I don't even know that the brace is on my leg. When you are out there running 180 mph you are not really thinking about that, you're so focused on what's going on around you and what the car is doing."

Ultimately, Gordon wants a shot at running in NASCAR's premium package, the NEXTEL Cup Series. Although, she wants to learn from the mistakes of the female drivers that have come before her, and make sure she is ready for the challenge and in competitive equipment.

"We have talked to some people about doing a one off Cup ride," Gordon said. "Who knows maybe next year will be better for me to make that jump to the Cup series on a one or two race deal. I am not ready for a full time ride; I still have a lot to learn.

"I don't want to take that opportunity to be in the Cup series just to be in the Cup series as a female. I don't think that's going to give me a career just because I am a female. When I go to that level I want to be more of a competitive driver. I am not at that level yet as a driver, that's why this year that is what we are building towards."

There is one thing Gordon is sure about, which race she would like to make her Cup debut someday.

"Talladega, that's my home track. It is my favorite track. I couldn't pick any other track."

Until then, Gordon wants to concentrate on her Busch deal and continue to rack up seat and track time and work on funneling more sponsorship dollars into her deal to help create the best piece her team can.

"It takes 4-5 million dollars in the Busch Series to have a top notch team," said Gordon. "We want to concentrate on the rest of this year, but also start setting up our sponsorships for next year, in the hopes that we can run the full season.

"It takes a lot of sponsorship dollars to be in competitive equipment."

Gordon takes the green flag in the No. 39 Ford from the 42nd position for Saturday night's Winn-Dixie 250.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dennis Setzer , Tina Gordon