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Motorsports 101 Debate: was Jeff Gordon in the Right on Sunday and Should He Have Been Penalized?

November 14th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
By Mark Eddinger

To set the scene, in the closing laps at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday Clint Bowyer got into the left rear of Jeff Gordon and then the two made contact again which led to Gordon slamming the outside wall. Instead of adhering to the black flag with two laps remaining, Gordon decided to wait on the track and crash Clint Bowyer. Was Jeff Gordon in the right with his actions and then were the penalties that NASCAR handed down on Monday fair?

Gordon Out of Line But NASCAR Needs to Let the Drivers Police Themselves – Clayton Caldwell
Jeff Gordon’s actions at Phoenix International Raceway were absolutely ridiculous, plain and simple. Clint Bowyer rubbed him on the tight part of the Phoenix racetrack and they got together, big whoop. This isn’t the IndyCar Series where you can’t bump each other. You can bump and get away with it in NASCAR, that’s what fans want to see! However, I understand Gordon’s frustration if he felt like he was wrecked, then I understand why he crashed Bowyer.
'JeffGordonDrive2EndHunger' photo (c) 2011, Bertho RF1 - license:
The penalties and fines made me laugh. First off, Gordon wasn’t going to win a championship this season anyway. He had no shot at anything points wise. The 25 points mean absolutely nothing! The $100,000 fine? Are you serious? Jeff Gordon makes over 15 million dollars a year and you really think he is going to miss $100,000? Me neither. There should have been no penalty or fine.

You see, this is the “Boys Have at It,” era. It’s an era where drivers should police themselves and should handle the things on and off the track. Bowyer should be preparing payback for Jeff Gordon and when Gordon is running really well next season, Bowyer should take him out and hurt Gordon where it hurts in the points next season when he is fighting for his fifth championship. If Gordon doesn’t like that style of racing well then he should have handled things better on Sunday. He opened the door for Clint Bowyer to wreck him, since Gordon took out Bowyer. It would only be fair to have payback.
But that’s not what is going to happen and that’s not “Boys Have at It!” If the drivers policed themselves none of this stuff would happen. They would handle it like men or take it out on the track and then talk about it off the track. NASCAR has now set a precedent with the Gordon penalty so Bowyer can’t wreck Gordon without getting points taken away and a fine…right? That’s only fair now.
That’s why I really don’t understand the penalties or fine. It’s kind of pointless and it’s not fair to Clint Bowyer.
Enough Was Enough For Gordon – Mark Eddinger
First, I admit I am biased somewhat significantly because I have always been and always will be a Jeff Gordon fan. So when, I saw Bowyer once again get into him late in the race I was ticked off. Apparently so was Jeff.
'Drive2EndHunger Chevrolet Impala car NASCAR' photo (c) 2011, Bertho RF1 - license:
The 2012 season was a strong one for Gordon, where he won a race and was in the running to win many more but faced issues that cost him. The main issue that had Gordon and his No. 24 team fighting down to a last laps at Richmond International Raceway to even make the Chase for the Sprint Cup was the bone-headed move Clint Bowyer pulled at Martinsville Speedway way back on April 1. 
In that race Bowyer cost Gordon a win and in the current Wild Card format for making the Chase that win would have meant a lot. It would have meant that when he did finally win at Pocono Raceway on August 5 that he virtually would have locked up a Wild Card spot by winning his second race. Instead the No. 24 team had to fight it's way uphill all season.
There have been other close calls and hard racing between the two drivers the rest of the season. That by all means is fine. It is NASCAR and the fans want to and deserve to see hard racing. But Gordon was not totally out of line by wrecking Bowyer the way he did on Sunday. The unfortunate thing was that it wrecked other racecars that were innocent bystanders and changed the way the race would have ended.
People are now saying that Boywer has a free shot at payback on Gordon. This makes no sense to me. Gordon is the one that had a "free shot" to take Bowyer out from the incident back in April. If they think Bowyer should wait until it will cost Gordon the most, which obviously will not be at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, then Gordon retaliated at exactly the right moment. With Jimmie Johnson's wreck at Phoenix, Boywer was only going to be about a handful of points behind Johnson and still well within striking distance of Brad Keselowski if he should have any issue in the finale. Bowyer could have become the 2012 Champion if things went his way, but after the contact Jeff Gordon was not going to let that happen. He took Bowyer out when it mattered most and now Clint is mathematically eliminated from title contention.
It didn't make a lot of sense for NASCAR to fine Gordon and dock him points, but that more had to come because of the fist fight in the garage area between the two teams and not necessarily the action of taking out Bowyer on the track. NASCAR needs rivalries. It will make the racing better overall. Brad Keselowski vs Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson vs Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon vs Clint Bowyer. They would be volatile powder kegs that could blow at any race. Fans would love it and the sanctioning body needs to embrace it.
Tags: Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Chase for the Sprint Cup, Clint Bowyer, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, martinsville speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, Phoenix International Raceway, Pocono Raceway, richmond international raceway

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