Jeff Gordon’s right-side seatbelt came undone during Monday’s rain-delayed Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono.
Gordon, driving his second race for Dale Earnhardt Jr., said the buckle came undone twice in the second half of the race. The first time happened when he was leaving pit road. The second time happened during a restart. In-car camera shots showed Gordon fiddling with the seatbelt as he was driving the car.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen with this type of mechanism where you just plug it in and it latches,” Gordon said of the belt that came from above his shoulder and latched near his waist. “I’ve had it happen under the old system with the old kind of buckle — it was actually at Sonoma one time leading the race. Went right off the next corner when that happened but was able to get it latched. This one I thought I had it latched because it happened actually leaving pit road one time. I got it latched, lost some time and we were in a pretty good position on the restart … just that little bit of side movement pulled it out [again].
“It would go in and sort of latch but when you wiggled it left to right it would pop right out.”
[Related: Quick takeaways from Pocono]
After Gordon discussed his seatbelt malfunction during a fog delay with 22 laps to go in the race, NBC dissected the replays from inside his car and it appears the steering wheel may have hit the latch, causing the buckle to come undone. That would jive with Gordon’s statement that side-to-side movement would cause the buckle to come undone.
The four-time champion wondered if something had become lodged in the latch to prevent it from locking fully after the first time he rebuckled the belt. Thankfully Gordon didn’t have any incidents or was in the vicinity of any crashes
“I knew I couldn’t go down in turn one on these crazy restarts without a right-side seatbelt,” Gordon said.
It’s the second time this year the No. 88 team has also had a crazy safety issue inside the car. Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel came off at Talladega. Junior said the steering wheel problem happened when the wheel wasn’t latched securely.
Gordon ended up finishing 27th after the race was called because of fog and rain. Chris Buescher won the race, which was stopped 22 laps before its scheduled completion.
– – – – – – –