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Jeff Gordon: I'm ready to race

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, May. 19, 2009

Fresh off a procedure to alleviate a back problem, four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon declared himself ready for Sunday's grueling Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who has experienced progressively worse back pain in recent years, had a facet block procedure on Monday which he hopes to rid himself of much – if not all – of his back pain.

“It went well,” said Gordon. “I was a little sore after the procedure, but I'll definitely take that brief bit of soreness if it stops the recurring back pain I've had.

“I hope that will end the back issues I've been having, but it's too early to tell if that fixed the problem.”

Facet block injections are a diagnostic tool used to isolate and confirm a specific source of back pain. They also have a therapeutic effect, numbing the source of the pain and soothing inflammation.

Facet joints are paired joints in the back that have opposing surfaces of cushioning tissue (cartilage) and a surrounding capsule. Twisting injuries can cause damage to one or both of the joints.

Gordon isn't wasting any time to test his back. Today, he will take part in “Ultimate Speed” – a karting event to raise money for the Jeff Gordon Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord.

“Even running karts I've felt some discomfort in my back, so that event may provide an early indication of how well the procedure worked,” he said.

Thursday, Gordon returns to LMS for practice and qualifying for the 600.

“This is a grueling race – 600 miles here is tough,” said Gordon, the series points leader. “It's tough on equipment, and it's tough mentally. You have to mentally stay in the game and be focused for 600 miles.

“Obviously, I want to see how my back does, but I also think we can challenge for the win.”

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