So You Wanted Excitement? Gordon Delivers

By Ron Fleshman On Mon, Nov. 12, 2012

Phoenix brings back a lot of memories. It takes me back to 1992 when the championship was down to three drivers in many pundit’s opinions—Bill Elliott, Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki. All drove Fords, but Allison had the upper hand with a lead and with the Robert Yates Racing team’s stout engines. Elliott and Kulwicki were considered two drivers that would finish in second and third in no particular order. It was Davey Allison’s to win. And then came Phoenix. Many of you know the story. An unfortunate tangle with Ernie Irvan, and Allison was out of the championship picture. I thought about that as I watched Brad Keselowski take a pretty solid lead in the 2012 Chase for the Championship.

All it took was a right front tire failure for Jimmy Johnson. Most of us have watched the flawless execution of the No. 48 Chevy team for the last seven seasons. Even in defeat, they always have appeared to be invincible. Unfortunately, this was not the case this time. Just like Allison in 1992, it was not preparedness nor was it the car, it was dumb luck. For Allison it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For Jimmie Johnson it was the failure of a tire. The result was the same. Both drivers were put in a hole that would be difficult to escape from with only one race remaining.

In 1992, they finished at Atlanta. Kulwicki went on to win the championship despite Elliott winning the race. We may see the same scenario next week. I cannot imagine the Lowe’s team not being fired up and bringing their best piece to Homestead, but I also cannot see the Penske team bringing less than a car that could win the race. Gone are the days when drivers rode around hoping for 15th place to insure a championship—the place that Keselowski needs to clinch his first championship (like Elliott and Rusty Wallace did in their championship years). Anything can happen, but history tells us that Keselowski is in the driver’s seat. Whether he makes it or not will have to wait until November 18th, as it should be.

On this day, I am more concerned about the incident that happened near the end of the race. When accidents happen in the course of racing, I have no problem with it. I like rubbing during racing and one thing we haven’t seen enough of is drivers moving cars to get an advantage. That used to be a staple of what NASCAR was. With the advent of the Chase and so much attention being paid to the championship and not winning races, it’s almost disappeared. What Jeff Gordon did today was not what I had in mind.

It was a surprise. Gordon is a four-time champion, but things have been a little lean lately. He’s watched teammate Jimmie Johnson win five championships. He’s watched Dale Earnhardt, Jr. get more attention at Hendrick Motorsports. It has been more frustration than he can bear. We saw him push Matt Kenseth at Bristol with his helmet on, and walk down and push Jeff Burton when things didn’t go his way. Frustration is a horrible thing. Unfortunately, today was over the line. We’ve seen this behavior from Carl Edwards and we’ve seen it from Kyle Busch. Edwards stalked Keselowski after he punted Edwards at Talladega and Kyle Busch take out his frustration on Ron Hornaday in a truck race, Edwards was put on probation and Kyle Busch was parked for a race.

When Gordon’s car crashed, it was obvious from 2,500 miles away that debris from the crash was obvious. A yellow flag would have probably ended the result that we saw played out live. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Gordon was allowed to slow down and wait for Bowyer and the end result was good television, but not good for racing. Sure, many have said that ticket sales will be brisk for Homestead, but what about the state of the sport?

When the crews took it into their own hands and television showed Bowyer sprinting to get in the fight of running up to the hauler of the No. 24, all I could think of was WWE. Sorry, but I did. To many that was a good thing, but to me it was not that at all. The other problem was that NASCAR didn’t throw the yellow when Danica Patrick spun. Although Robin Pemberton said they couldn’t see any oil, I was sitting in West Virginia, 2.500 miles away and saw the oil. I saw the cars having a hard time negotiating in the oil and the final wrecks were not s surprise. How could someone sitting maybe a football field away not see that? You be the judge.

Most drivers were upset on this day, and may say they lost respect for a four time champion. Whether that transfers to the final race at the Ford Championship weekend is not determined. We will soon know.

Ron Fleshman (175 Posts)

Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as www.motorsportsforum.com. He can now be found at www.ris-news.com. Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.


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Displaying 9 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. cowboy22 says:

    Jay the only reason for you to call Jeff Gordon a sissy is that you read the book on sissies. Stop the insults or I will hit you with my purse.

  2. 17fan says:

    Look, lets get the record straight on what happend at Bristol with Kenseth and Gordon, and im a Kenseth fan! Gordon had just gotten to pit road when Matt came up to him, and therefore had no time to take his helmet off. It doesn’t take long to unbuckle and throw the window net down. I bet he saw Matt coming, or was told Matt was coming, and decided he was going to let him know what he felt about what happened. I understand Gordo was mad after that race and don’t really blame him for his actions. But this narrative that he’s a pansy because he didn’t have his helmet off is a joke. As for what he did this past weekend, once again, if someone keeps provoking you, it’s time to let them know that you ain’t gonna take that sh!t. If Clint Bowyer was a real man, he’d admit that HIS actions led to this unfortunate event. Jeff Gordon doesn’t just wreck someone like that without there being lots of reasons. By the way, 5 hour energy is bad for you… had it on the news this morning. haha.

  3. Jay says:

    Gordon fans are hilarious. If Gordon was so heroic, why couldn’t he wait one more lap and confront Bowyer outside the car (with helmet off). Gordon’s a sissy. Sorry JG fans. Its the truth

  4. 3Wrangler says:

    The race in which Ernie Irvan was the finale at Atlanta, not the race at Phoenix; I also recall that Mark Martin, Kyle Petty and Harry Gant all had a mathematical shot at the title the final race.

  5. charles lejeun;e says:

    bowser is a punk. tell him i said so

    charles

  6. cowboy22 says:

    A pox on Bowyer!!

  7. Al DeMichele says:

    This goes farther back than the Martinsville race this year. I remember the race at Richmond a couple of years ago. I was there. On the final restart and with a few laps to go Gordon was battling for the win. And who comes up along side of his left rear quarter panel and gets Gordon all squirrelly so he loses a bunch of spots? Yup. You guessed it. Bowyer. I don’t blame Gordon. He’s had enough of Bowyer.

  8. jerseygirl24 says:

    Gordon doesn’t need your approval, that’s for sure. He was frustrated all right but not because of the attention that Johnson & Jr get – how can you people get it so wrong? How many times has Bowyer run into Jeff this season? He cost him the win at Martinsville by dive-bombing under him during the stupid GWC nonsense that NASCAR considers “exciting” and had run into him several times in other races. Yesterday, Bowyer hit him twice before Jeff lost his temper and decided to get a little of his own back. Once, Jeff would probably have let go, twice, well, another good finish ruined by an idiot who by his own admission “didn’t need to pass him”. Then knowing that Gordon was there, Bowyer decides to pass under him on the track – really? What did he think was going to happen?

    There are lots of people saying how many new fans Bowyer got by his running down pit road — why? Bowyer didn’t do anything except arrive late to the assault that had already been attempted by the 15 team.

  9. cowboy22 says:

    Jeff doesn’t need anybodys respect. Why ask for it when jerks like Bowyer and teams like MWR are in the hunt?
    He is still 4 time.
    Bowyer is the idiot that earns a big fine. Running 200 yards to do bodily harm after saying, “where is the SOB, I want to kill him,” isn’t exactly an action that should be penalty free.
    Bowyer had it coming. Good for Jeff.

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