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Nascar Mayhem in Phoenix
November 14, 2012 - Al Stephenson
If you are a race fan, you probably watched the next to last Sprint Cup race of the season Sunday in Phoenix. It was a relatively lackluster race until Jeff Gordon decided he had had enough of Clint Bowyer's racing style. What had been building up over several weeks boiled over in the desert sun. Gordon decided he needed to retaliate and the sooner the better. What ensued was stupid, comical and (I agree with Brad Keselowski) embarrassing.
Three things jump out at me following this race. The first was Gordon intentionally taking out Bowyer and as it turned out Joey Logano and Aric Almirola. The second was Bowyer's sprint to Gordon's hauler. The third was the lack of a caution flag after Danica Patrick hit the wall and was barely moving when all you know what broke out at the finish line. Let's take them in order.
Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000 (big whoop), had 25 points deducted (bigger whoop), and placed on probation until Dec. 31, which is the biggest whoop of all. The money is the equivalent of me being fined $1. The points don't really matter and what the heck can he do that could land him in trouble by the end of the year - unless he is not done with Bowyer and does something equally foolish at Homestead.
Gordon's actions were both stupid and dangerous. Personally I think he should be forced to miss the last race. Nascar sat down Kyle Busch last year at Texas for a similarly stupid act of retaliation. Gordon deserved the same treatment. Intentionally wrecking someone should be treated harshly. If someone is seriously hurt or killed in one of those incidents, Nascar's policy of "boys have at it" will not seem so funny anymore.
As for Bowyer's dash, it made for great TV but it seemed so childish to me. He waited much too long to make his run, so his emotions had time to cool. Perhaps he was inspired by his crew going after Gordon and dooking it out with the #24's crew, but it all seemed so phony. What was he thinking would happen when he got to Gordon's hauler? That Jeff would come out and put up his fists? Nice promo for Bowyer's sponsor (5 Hour Energy Drink), but too theatrical for my taste.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the race was the fact the Nascar did not throw the caution flag after Patrick became a sitting duck and the whole field had to drive through oil in the final turn. Race winner Kevin Harvick made it through but not without a big wiggle as did Denny Hamlin. After that it was a demolition derby that found Danica's wounded car going partially airborn as everone went slip sliding across the line.
This kind of crazy finish appeals to some Nascar fans. I just don't happen to be one of them. I like close hard racing, but I don't need wrecks to make the racing interesting. That last lap mayhem was Nascar's fault and their mistake.
The view from my seat suggests that Nascar racing is exciting enough without having to turn it into big time wrestling. A buddy of mine suggested that Hendrick Motor Sports should have to pay for the damage to the race cars of Bowyer, Logano and Almirola as a result of Jeff Gordon's bonehead move. I would have no problem with that. Nascar should have to pay for the damage to all the last lap wrecked cars because that should never have happened in the first place.
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