By Mike Mulhern
KANSAS CITY, Kansas
Jeff Gordon, the four-time NASCAR Cup series champ who is odds-on favorite to get his fifth this season, says NASCAR is making a mistake approving Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve for next week’s Talladega 500 as his first Nextel Cup tour star.
“I love Jacques, I’m a big fan of his, but I don’t think that’s the right decision to make,” Gordon says. “I’m very, very surprised that was approved. I don’t agree with it….but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
“Nothing against his talent. But that race, in the chase….
“If you want to run a race, go run Atlanta.
“Jacques did a nice job at the test. But you can’t judge anything off a test; that’s crazy.
“Yes, he did a nice job in the Truck race, but he wasn’t in contention. He just didn’t bounce off anything, which was very good.
“But I think you need to go get experience before you get stuck into a Cup race, especially one that is so crucial to the championship.
“This thing just got thrown to me 30 or 40 minutes ago…and I’m fired up about it. There’s a lot I’d like to say about it…and it has nothing to do with Jacques Villeneuve or Bill Davis. It’s great what they’re doing, and I want to see him in the Cup series – just not at Talladega. It’s not a place for rookies. There is too much on the line. And no matter if he’s one of the most experience drivers in the world, Talladega is not the place to start. There are so many other tracks to start; why start there? It makes no sense to me.
“But I’m focused on a championship and trying not to get too caught up in it.”