NASCAR lays down the law on Jeff GordonFor dust-up with Bowyer, driver fined $100,000 and docked 25 championship points
By DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency
|Jeff Gordon was fined for for intentionally wreaking Clint Bowyer during Sunday's race. (BRIAN BLANCO/Reuters file photo)
The dust up between four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer at the conclusion of the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway was not a spur-of-the-moment deal.
According to Gordon it had been building all season long.
He claims Bowyer has used his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota as a battering ram on far more than one occasion when racing the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this year.
“Things have gotten escalated over the year and I have just had it,” Gordon said after meeting with NASCAR bosses in the big white hauler at PIR.
“Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me and he got into me on the back straightaway (on Sunday), pretty much ruined our day. I have had it, was fed up with it and got him back.”
For that admission Gordon was slapped Monday with a $100,000 US fine and 25 championship points.
His team owner Rick Hendrick was also penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points
One thing that about the whole incident was the reaction of people who were genuinely surprised that Gordon would get involved in such a violent act of wrecking somebody at nearly 200 m.p.h.
Where have these folks been of the past 20 years?
Gordon has been in the centre of some well documented feuds, most recently in 2010 with Jeff Burton at Texas Motor Speedway.
And who can forget his pit lane wrestling match with Matt Kenseth.
This is no mild mannered shrinking violet. When pushed, Gordon has a history of pushing back.
He is right up front about it too, as he was on Sunday.
Gordon said that he admitted to NASCAR officials he deliberately wrecked Bowyer and was not one bit sorry and didn’t much care if he is penalized come Tuesday when NASCAR usually hands down such punishments.
“They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do,” he said. “Just like I had to do what I had to do.”
All of this makes Bowyer’s reaction seem rather incredulous. In interviews in the aftermath of the affair he expressed shock that Gordon would stoop to such tactics.
“It’s just a shame,” Bowyer said. “The last person in the world you want to get into anything with is Jeff Gordon on the race track”
He said he rubbed the No. 24 Chevrolet on the backstretch but thought it was pretty minor.
“All I was doing is riding around biding my time,” Bowyer said. “So for him to act like that — I mean, I barely touched him — and then I feel him get into turn three to try to turn me and he missed and then next thing I know Brett’s (Griffin, spotter) telling me on the radio that he’s waiting on me.
“I just barely touched him ... then all the sudden I feel him trying to retaliate and ... made himself look like a fool.”
Bowyer said that Gordon’s wrecking him on the final lap of a race that had championship implications — Bowyer was still mathematically in contention before he melee — will be a black mark on Gordon’s career.
“It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion — and what I consider one of the best this sport’s ever seen — to act like that is just completely ridiculous,” he said.
“That was my opportunity to try to get myself back in the championship hunt. When you’re disrupting a championship run like that, it’s too bad.
“They asked us not to do that in the driver’s meeting and there’s usually a lot of respect there. I was plenty content riding behind him and he slipped up down there, I get under him and here he comes back.”
Of course now with both Gordon and Bowyer out of the championship picture, everyone will be waiting to see if this feud has legs at the season finale Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Bowyer was non committal on what he plans to do the next time the pair get close on the track but he hinted it will be hard to forgive and forget.
“We just have to see,” he said. “We have to go to Homestead and do the best we can.”
UP FOR GRABS
The championships in the big three NASCAR series — Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks — will be decided this weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway.
NASCAR officials have released the scenarios to clinch the titles in each of the series.
First in Sprint Cup Brad Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points going into Homestead.
He clinches his first Sprint Cup championship and Penske Racing’s first Cup crown with a finish of 15th or better; or 16th and at least one lap led; or 17th and the most laps led, even if Johnson wins and leads the most laps.
All other drivers have been eliminated from championship consideration.
In Nationwide Ricky Stenhouse Jr., also leads by 20 points over second-place Elliott Sadler, and he will clinch with a finish of 16th or better; or 17th or better with at least one lap led; or 18th or better with most laps led at Homestead.
In the Camping World Truck series James Buescher has an 11-point lead over Timothy Peters heading into the finale. Buescher guarantees himself his first championship with a finish of seventh or better with no laps led; or eighth or better with one lap led; or ninth or better with the most laps led.