Jeff Gordon's affinity for the Indianapolis 500 has not changed.
His plans for running the race have.
The only four-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard acknowledged Friday that even if a schedule change made it possible for him to race at the historic 2.5-mile oval in May, he probably would not drive in the biggest race on the IndyCar circuit.
"You have to know the cars and do laps with the cars to know what you're doing," he said at this week's NASCAR stop. "If say, you wanted to go run around at 210 mph, I could do that, but I wouldn't have much fun doing that because I like being competitive."
For Gordon, the lack of an Indy start is a rare gap on his impeccable resume.
He has four Cup points titles, third all-time, and three wins at Daytona. He ranks sixth in career victories (82), one behind Cale Yarborough. A victory Sunday at Indy would make Gordon the second five-time winner at the 100-year-old track, joining Formula One's Michael Schumacher.
While the 37-year-old lists Vallejo, Calif., as his hometown, he hasn't forgotten those formative years he spent driving in nearby Pittsboro, Ind. Back then, Gordon attended May's traditional festivities and dreamed of driving in the 500.
But when he couldn't land a ride in IndyCars, Gordon switched to stock cars and found a home.
Even as John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon turned the Memorial Day double _ the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 _ into a trend, Gordon never took the chance.
The revised schedule has eliminated the possibility of pulling double duty. Since Indiana switched to daylight saving time in 2006, the race has started at 1 p.m. instead of its previous traditional time of 11 a.m. With the NASCAR race in Charlotte, N.C., starting at 6 p.m., drivers do not have enough time to make it to both events.
The speedway's new chief, Jeff Belskus, has already said he does not intend to change the starting time or day of the 500, and even if he did, Gordon doesn't believe he could do it.
"I don't think that's going to happen as long as I'm running a full-time (NASCAR) schedule," he said. "As a driver I have so much respect for IndyCars. It's not like if I had an off-weekend, I would go run 230 mph laps."