tampabay.com

Off-track joys build for 4-time champ Gordon

Veteran driver has quite a year

By BRANT JAMES
Published January 17, 2007


DAYTONA BEACH - In February, Jeff Gordon said he hoped to marry again one day, that he looked forward to starting a family and being a father. One year later, check and double-check.

The 35-year-old, four-time Nextel Cup champion wed Ingrid Vandebosch in November, a week after they learned she was due to give birth June 30. Gordon doesn't know if it's a boy or a girl, but he knows it's what he wants. He just hopes he's ready, and that this year can compare to the last.

 

Can you believe all this happened in one year?

It's awesome. I'm excited. A year ago I was dating Ingrid and I definitely knew she was something special and that if I was ever going to get married again, she definitely was the type of person I could see myself doing that with and that became a reality because we started growing together and living our lives together and we fell in love. Right away, for us, when we got engaged we were talking about starting a family. We both are in our mid 30s and for us there was no reason to wait. So I guess that's kind of why to some people maybe it was a surprise, but to us it wasn't, that we found out a week before we went to get married that she was actually pregnant.

 

Are you going to be a doting dad who never wants to leave the house anymore?

Maybe, I don't know. Right now the baby is growing inside of her and she gets to experience the different things day to day and I try to get involved as I can, but there is only so much I think I can do. But when that baby is born, you never know how you're going to react. I feel like it's something that's going to be a life-changing experience and I don't know how I will react to it.

 

Did Jimmie Johnson's camp handle the golf cart incident the right way?

In hindsight, it's one of those things where it's the off-season and is it something that's even worthy of creating a story out of? Then at the same time, he's the champion, and he broke his wrist, so that's a story. It could have been handled differently. I don't think Hendrick Motorsports really did anything wrong. They reported what they were told. I just wonder if a press release could be put out at all. Once it got out there, then there's no turning back. Just getting it out there and us reacting to that, that he was having a good time, had too much ... fun, and an accident happened, and it's going to be better by (the Daytona 500), that would be the way I would have handled it.

Changes

Juan Pablo Montoya has many adjustments to make in his transition from Formula One to driver of the No. 42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing. Among them is the perception of success, he said.

"I'm not used to a top-10 (finish) being good," said Montoya, a former Indianapolis 500 winner and Champ Car champion who left McLaren Mercedes last season. "In F1, you finish fourth and you suck ... Sure, I need to get to the point where I realize that if we finish in the top 10, that's a good day. But we need to set higher goals, too."

Montoya said his former peers would be startled to learn the intracies of controlling a car on banked ovals without the technological wizardry that dominates Formula One.

"People don't understand what a big challenge this style of racing is. (Retired seven-time champion) Michael Schumacher, just take him to Homestead and tell him to stay half a second off the pace. He would have a heart attack. ... There, you're doing over 200 miles an hour out of the straight. If something goes wrong, you're going to hit the wall pretty hard."