NASCAR Racers – And Elephants – Never Forget

Charlotte, NC (November 12, 2012) – While watching the fight that ensued after Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer late in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix, I could only think about one thing – punching out Boris Said.

Mind you, Said wasn’t even competing at Phoenix Sunday. I wasn’t there either, but seeing the melee between the two teams on television reminded me of a time when Said intentionally wrecked my driver, Rich Bickle, in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway in 1997.

Afterward, I wanted to straighten Said’s teeth for that one.

Still do.

To think that something that happened on the track a full 15 years ago still boils my oil is kind of laughable, but the fact is that racers are like elephants – they never forget.

My guess is the crew on Boyer’s No. 15 stocker will feel the same about Jeff Gordon decades from now.

Say what you will about crews fighting over an on-track incident. I’d be the first to stand up and say it’s wrong – that it’s not exactly the way the sport wants to be perceived and that ultimately and more importantly, people could get seriously hurt.

Then again, when someone intentionally waits on the track to wreck your driver and race vehicle, you may have one coming.

There are enough dangers inherent in stock car racing without adding in the ramifications of violent, premeditated on-track acts. It’s bad enough that someone would limp around the track waiting for a chance to purposely destroy anyone’s racer. Forget the lost race vehicle, finish or championship points – the possible injuries or even worse outcome that could accompany those kinds of actions.

Bottom line – Jeff Gordon was completely out of bounds in the way he handled the situation with Bowyer Sunday.

Just like Said did for Bickle 15 years ago, Gordon waited for Bowyer with a planned attack and exacted his revenge. Gordon also wrecked the cars of Joey Logano and Aric Almirola in the process of paying back Bowyer Sunday and – finally – his actions set off a wild scene of pushing, shoving and wrestling that seemed to envelope the entire PIR garage area.

That’s a bag of bad karma for Jeffy right there folks.

Sunday’s dust up may have made some pretty good theater, but Gordon’s actions were wrong on multiple levels. Frankly, he should be parked for this weekend’s race at Homestead, but that’s another story (see below.)

Regardless of NASCAR’s punitive sanctions for Gordon’s actions Sunday, members of Bowyer’s team will despise him for years to come. That’s the way it is if you are a NASCAR crewmember. If you ‘dirty up’ someone’s driver during the normal discourse of a race, everyone we’ll probably get over it to a degree. If you wait for a car so you can exact a premeditated plan to wreck it, someone will probably still want a piece of you 15 years later.

Like I said, elephants never forget.

Race Control Chaos

After a season of blown calls and inconsistent race management, NASCAR officials were again in the media cross hairs after Sunday’s event at Phoenix.

Forget the Gordon-Bowyer mess and whether NASCAR will have the stones to set Gordon down for the final race at Homestead. This time, not throwing a caution on a final green, white, checkered-flag finish and needlessly wrecking half a dozen cars as they completed the race has Race Control on the defensive.


The fact that NASCAR allowed the field to race to the final flag Sunday while the track had an oil slick on it big enough that one competitor stated “Ray Charles could even see that” was unconscionable.

We’re not privy to the discussions take place in NASCAR Race Control, but we do know whatever they are, many of the decisions they have produced have turned out to be suspect at best and incorrect at worst this season.

Inconsistent application of the start of race and restart rules, unexplainable cautions at certain times during events, and not making the right calls when there is obviously an issue on the racetrack (like Sunday’s oil slick) have been prevalent all season.

In fact, the only consistent things about NASCAR Race Control this season has been it’s inconsistency – and seeing NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton in front of the media seemingly after every race trying to rationalize away why the calls were made.

NASCAR has a lot of big plans for 2013. Here’s suggesting that they also re-evaluate the procedures and personnel in Race Control because when you look at the 2012 season as a whole, the folks NASCAR has in charge of managing and officiating the races are just not getting it done.

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