TALLADEGA, ALA. (AP) - With an impressive resume and a family, Jeff Gordon isn't sure he would keep racing if he'd sustained the same injury that befell Denny Hamlin. At the least, Gordon wouldn't rush back to the track.
The four-time NASCAR champion is also at a different stage of his career from Hamlin, who is getting behind the wheel some five weeks after a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back sidelined him from four races.
"I'm later in my career and have a family and so an injury like Denny went through, I don't know," the 41-year-old Gordon said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "I might not come back from that just because, is it worth it? For Denny, I think it's worth it for him to really take his time and doing it right. What he's doing this weekend to, to me that makes sense."
Hamlin could climb out of the car at some point during Sunday's Aaron's 499 and let Brian Vickers take over behind the wheel. Gordon retreated somewhat from his stance that he might not return to say he at least "probably would take a little longer vacation" than Hamlin.
"He's young, he's got so many years ahead of him," Gordon said. "I probably would be more patient with it just because what do I have to gain? I've had the fortune of winning four championships. Sure I would like to win more, but he's not won a championship. He has so many race wins ahead of him.
"I think he's seen how good his team is this year and I think that makes it more challenging for a guy in his position than it would be for me to wait it out."
For Gordon, his wife, Ingrid, and children Ella and Leo would factor heavily on his decision after any serious injury.
He said that perspective doesn't change how he races on the track and insists drivers don't think of their occupation as being any more dangerous than someone with a 9-to-5 office job.
"You start to realize where the real priorities are and when I'm at the race track my priority is to win," Gordon said. "If there is something that's going to take me away from spending quality time with my family 10, 20 years from now, that's something I would weigh in any decision I make."