CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — When a car crashed in his front yard, Jeff Gordon tweeted a photo of the vehicle stuck in his hedges.
He was immediately flooded with responses, many asking if the throttle had hung open on the blue sports car that was now doubling as a lawn ornament.
Gordon was able to laugh about it Thursday, four days after a stuck throttle caused him to crash in the opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He'd been running in the top five most of the race, wound up 35th, and goes to Round 2 at New Hampshire ranked last in the 12-driver Chase field.
He's confident a Hendrick Motorsports team that was soaring after Gordon raced his way into the Chase at Richmond on Sept. 8 will rebound from the hard fall at Chicago.
"I wouldn't say we're going over the next nine weeks going, 'Oh man, we're the team to beat,'" Gordon said. "But we're not going to stop. We're not going to give up. We proved once this year on how we made it into the Chase. Nothing would be sweeter than to prove we can win a championship, even with this."
Gordon said a bracket mounted to the spring return had been designed specifically for him to be used with NASCAR's new electronic fuel injection system, and the problem with his throttle stemmed from that.
"It's something that I'm surprised didn't happen sooner to us, just the way our bracket was mounted, it just broke," Gordon said. "It didn't stick wide open. It just stuck enough to where I carried enough speed to hit the wall. The impact wasn't that severe."
Gordon talked about the accident during an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he unveiled the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle paint scheme he'll use in the Oct. 13 race. His 2-year-old son, Leo, was on hand to help uncover the car and meet the turtles.
Those are the kind of moments the four-time series champion is treasuring these days, and he said he's had no greater joy then celebrating his July win at Pocono with his wife and two children. He said his kids love racing, the cars and the paint schemes, but are typically unaware of the magnitude of crashes like Sundays.
"For what happened in Chicago, (Ella) was there and she knew it didn't go well," Gordon said. "She knows when it goes well because she gets to go to Victory Lane. But she knows some days it's a good day and some days it's a really disappointing day."