NASCAR & Auto Racing

Daytona buzz: Gordon’s plans, Purdy in pace car and Busch’s legal woes

Despite earlier hints, Jeff Gordon now says it’s unlikely he’ll join any races in 2016 after his pledged retirement at the end of this season.
Despite earlier hints, Jeff Gordon now says it’s unlikely he’ll join any races in 2016 after his pledged retirement at the end of this season. The Associated Press

Gordon amends 2016 plans

Although Jeff Gordon, who is retiring after the 2015 season, has hinted he may compete in some select Sprint Cup races in 2016, he backed off those plans Thursday.

“That’s just not my game plan,” said Gordon, the pole sitter for Sunday’s Daytona 500. “If I felt like I could go to a Brickyard or Martinsville or Bristol or a couple of tracks that come to mind and be competitive with a competitive team, then I might consider doing that. But I don’t know how that would ever play.

“You can’t do it at Hendrick (Motorsports). … There are four teams focused on winning the championship. It would be a disruption to that flow. Then you’ve got to have somebody as a car owner. You’ve got to put together a team and pull together good cars and engines. Then you’ve got to get sponsors. I don’t see it happening.”

Bowyer feels relieved

Clint Bowyer, who had to start 20th because of a wreck in qualifying, had to race his way into the Daytona 500 field, and he assured himself a spot for Sunday with a fifth-place finish Thursday.

“It’s definitely a breath of fresh air,” Bowyer said. “If it weren’t for adversity, how do you have any fun in life? It feels good to finally get a good run. When it came time and I was needing to go, I got up there and I felt like I was among the cars you’re going to have to beat to win the Daytona 500.

Purdy to drive pace car

Amy Purdy, a “Dancing With the Stars” finalist and Paralympic bronze medalist, will serve as the official pace car driver in a Toyota Camry for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Purdy, a top-ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S., lost her legs at 19 as a result of meningitis. She is a three-time World Cup Para-Snowboard winner, founded the nonprofit Adaptive Action Sports and appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014 when she competed in the finals.

“As a race fan, I’m thrilled to be invited to be the honorary pace car driver at the biggest race of the NASCAR season,” said Purdy, a native of Las Vegas. “This is another opportunity to try something new and be bold in my own life. I can’t wait to visit my fellow Toyota athletes and step into their world.”

Busch’s attorney files motion

Kurt Busch’s attorney has filed a motion in Delaware court to reopen the hearings on the protective order issued against Busch for an ex-girlfriend on Monday, citing witnesses who “have come forwarded and provided information that contradict her version of events after the split, before the alleged assault and immediately following the incident.”

A judge granted Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, a protective order that also required Busch to be evaluated “for mental health problems related to anger control and impulse control.”

Driscoll sought the order after saying Busch smashed her head three times against a wall in his motorhome last September at Dover International Speedway. Busch denied the allegation.

Dover police investigated Driscoll’s allegation and sent its findings to the state attorney general’s office in December. The office has not announced if it will seek any charges against Busch.

Randy Covitz, rcovitz@kcstar.com, and Star news services

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