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Jeff Gordon optimistic about future racetrack safety after meeting with NASCAR

Gordon downtown Dallas 2015

(Photo courtesy Texas Motor Speedway)

Mike Stone

Calling Tuesday’s meeting with NASCAR officials over racetrack safety “informative,” Jeff Gordon backed off some of his previous criticism of the sanctioning body Thursday.

“Maybe that was me getting a little bit ahead of myself as far as what the phased plan was,” Gordon told The Associated Press.

The four-time Sprint Cup champion, who two weeks ago slammed hard into a concrete wall at Atlanta Motor Speedway that was unprotected by a SAFER barrier or tire pack, revealed details of Tuesday’s meeting during an event Thursday in Dallas honoring his lengthy racing career.

“All I can tell you is that everybody is doing everything they possibly can right now to speed that process up and get these walls covered,” said Gordon, who performed a smoky burnout (photo) with his race car prior to the event. “And that’s what I’m most happy about right now.”

Gordon was uninjured in his Atlanta crash. But fellow Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch was not as fortunate. Busch suffered a broken right leg and fractured left foot when he crashed into an unprotected wall at Daytona International Speedway during an Xfinity Series race on Feb. 21.

Busch is out indefinitely.

“It’s a time-consuming thing; it doesn’t happen overnight,” Gordon said of the need to install additional SAFER barriers at tracks. “It’s a top priority to really make the tracks even safer than they are today and do it in as timely a fashion as what’s possible from their suppliers.”

Texas Motor Speedway has just under half of the outside wall around its 1.5-mile high-banked layout covered by SAFER barriers, track president Eddie Gossage told the AP during Gordon’s session with the media.

Gossage said NASCAR currently has no plans to add additional SAFER barriers at TMS but acknowledged the importance of having the technology, which cushions the crash impact on a driver, at NASCAR tracks.

“The last thing you want to do is have anybody get hurt, particularly a guy like Jeff who’s so important to you,” Gossage said. “He’s been finding walls that nobody’s ever found in their history of these places.”

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