Monday, July 10, 2006

Bump, bump...who's there?

I hesitate to even offer an opinion about what happened on Lap 264 of Sunday’s USG 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Because Jeff Gordon was involved, a great many fans automatically have an unalterable position on the incident. Gordon haters think it was dirty pool. Gordon’s fans think it was either just a racing incident or justified payback for what happened earlier this year at Bristol.
Matt Kenseth’s fans, meanwhile, are obviously upset. Kenseth said he’d probably have run out of gas anyway, and it looked like Gordon would likely be fast enough to make the pass before the checkered flag even if Kenseth kept going. But that doesn’t ease the frustration of seeing your favorite driver’s car being spun out while running in the lead with only a few laps left.
I don’t really have a dog in the fight, aside from the fact that it gave us all something to write about and argue about after the race.
I never have thought that NASCAR can – or should – try to officiate all of the contact out of stock-car racing. Rubbin’, after all, is racin.’
But what always has fascinated me is the situational officiating involved in the sport. Everything seems to depend on who’s involved or when something happens. And in that regard, NASCAR’s not all that different from any other sport.
In basketball, a foul should be a foul. But the same contact called in the first five minutes of a big game is not necessarily going to be called in the final five minutes, and everybody understands that.
Have you ever noticed how rarely you see holding called on an offensive lineman if an NFL or big-time college team is driving for a late touchdown? I have. On the other hand, a defensive back gets a little more leeway on contact sometimes when it’s late in a close game.
I have been covering NASCAR for 10 seasons now, full-time, and I don’t think I can ever remember a car contending for a victory being called for a pit-road speeding penalty on his final stop.
One of these days, I would love to see NASCAR hand out to the media a printout of what its new computers that supposedly measure pit road speeds showed for every car on every trip down pit road. But I am not going to hold my breath waiting to see that data.
Which brings us to what happened Sunday.
I honestly believe that if Gordon had done the same thing to Kenseth on Lap 50 of a race at Daytona or Talladega, NASCAR would have given Gordon a “rough driving” penalty. And if it was something that should have drawn a penalty in those circumstances, then it should have been met with some kind of sanction on Sunday.
Having said that, though, haven’t a lot of drivers throughout the sport’s history made a name for themselves by showing how much they wanted to win by driving “tough” in similar circumstances throughout their careers?
Gordon talked after Sunday’s incident about being hungry for wins and about how Kenseth should have expected what happened, especially given what happened with Kenseth bumping Gordon late in the race at Bristol earlier this year. He also hinted that he still owes Tony Stewart one, from an incident last year between those two, and that if Stewart sees Gordon coming in a similar situation he’d better “be ready.”
If you closed your eyes, that sounded a whole lot like a fellow named Earnhardt used to sound after he’d shown how hungry he was to win.


Anonymous said...


I have no issue with letting the drivers "race" . That is the racing I grew up with in maine and New Hampshire in the 70's. Along those lines I would hope that should Jeff manage to knock Tony out of the way,he had better have a dentist on stand by.

Anonymous said...

Jeff said after the Bristol incident with Kenseth that he'd had enough of holding back on his real personality. It's turning out that the real Jeff Gordon is a lot more like Dale Sr. then most thought. They got on as friends quite well, after all.

As far as the comment on a Gordon/Stewart fight, I wouldn't count Jeff out so quick. For one, Jeff may be short, but the man is in great shape. Tony may be taller and bigger, but that 'bigger' is not too much muscle. Sorry. I have no doubt that Tony packs one heck of a punch. I think it would be a pretty even match. Tony seems to have brute strength and size, but Jeff seems to have better fitness, agility, and some of his own strength, too. I have to say I'd pay real good money to see that fight. But then again, that is totally off the point of Mr. Poole's entry. Oh, well. I'm just tired of people saying Tony could flatten anyone who faced him in a fight.

Anonymous said...

My primary problem with Gordon is that while he is more than willing to put a bumper to anyone when he feels it will advance his position, when it happens to him, he is the biggest whiner in the pits. If he is going to bump he should not cry when he gets bumped.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the news stories on the site, Kenseth is still crying. Jeez, give him a pacifire. Atleast most drivers stop publicly complaining by Monday.

Tiredawg said...

Hey Dave, When you get a minute stop by my site. I have posted a great idea. No BS really a great idea for Mark Martin and Co. As far as Gordon/Kenseth....Rubbin's Racin Harry!!!

Mike said...

Gordon's hungry for a win comments were pretty similar to Kurt Busch's comments after he bumped (not dumped) Kenseth at Bristol. The desire for a win shouldn't be an excuse for rough-driving.

More importantly, intentional bumping on a 1.5 mile track is really dangerous. What if this happened at Kentucky and Kenseth hit the gap where Jeff Fuller did in the Busch race? That would have been very scary.

Anonymous said...

Well, well. The comparison between Jeff Gordon and Dale Sr, should not be made period, let alone be made by Jeff himself. That is the most egotistical thing I have heard him say. He is a good driver, but should never try to say he is just driving like Dale Sr. He made his choice to punt Kenseth...let him live with that instead of trying to relate it to the way Dale Sr drove....he will never be the driver that Dale Sr. was.

Unknown said...

Shirley -- Gordon never said it. I did. Don't get excited.

Anonymous said...

Not that any of this really matters, but I've seen both Gordon and Stewart up-close in normal clothing, and #1 Tony is maybe an inch taller, maybe. Neither one reaches 5 foot 9. And yes, he's a little bit heavier. But Gordon has bigger arms. Wacky I know, but its true. Its like he actually uses gym equipment not just owns some. And lets not forget, Gordon did knock out Mike Bliss with one punch last year at the airport in Miami...

Monkeesfan said...

shirley, when Gordon cheapshot Kenseth, he was driving exactly like Dale Sr.