Teammates Feud And Talladega’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The trouble continues to brew between teammates at Hendrick Motorsports. At Sunday’s Aaron’s 400 at the Talladega Superspeedway, Jeff Gordon had a great run coming towards turn-three when teammate Jimmie Johnson put up a late block causing the Gordon car to dive to the inside and losing valuable momentum. Johnson’s car also lost momentum and the two caused the pack to duck and dive around them. In that controlled chaos Burton came up in front and across Mike Bliss causing a multicar wreck.

Jeff Gordon showed his rarely seen candid side after the race, “We got a huge push down the back straightaway. I don’t know who it was, the No. 39 maybe, somebody gave me a big shove and I was coming ten-miles an hour faster than anybody and ‘um the 48 is testing my patience I can tell you that it takes a lot to make me made and I’m pissed right now. You know when a car is going that much faster…I don’t know what it is between me and him whatever.”

Rick Hendrick is more than just a man who spent a lot of money in racing. The difference is Hendrick gets the most out of it and masterfully has put the correct people in place. Massaging those powerful personalities is part of his talents. He did it with Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson early in their careers, now his latest is to take care of this Gordon-Johnson feud quickly. Too much is one the line.

The good from the race? Today’s Aaron’s 499 set NASCAR Sprint Cup records for lead changes, 88 as well as race leaders with 29 taking the point. These records broke marks also set at Talladega in 1984 and 2008, respectively. A clean well executed pass for the lead just before the finish line. Kevin Harvick pulled another great last lap pass for the win, well done. I thought for sure Jamie McMurray was going to dive down to bump him, if he did there would good chance one or both could had gone upside down. Harvick remarked after the race, “We knew we needed to be the second car pushing coming to the start-finish line because you can make that one swipe pass there coming to the finish line. It was just a matter of timing. Our day worked out really well for us. We planned on riding around in the back to miss the wrecks and racing with about 50 to go. All of that worked out and we were able to work our way there and have the move that we planned on trying to be in position to make at the end of the race.”

The new larger restrictor plate seem to help. It seem that drivers would be able to accelerate out of problems, not as much as the drivers would like. But, with NASCAR, it’s a little at a time. Race winner Harvick agreed, “I think the package NASCAR brought here worked out great. It is very forgiving. You can let out of the gas. You just don’t want to be the very last car in the pack. While you are in the middle of the pack, you can do what you need to do and push and shove. It is more fun when they let us race the way we want to race.”

One of the rules of Talladega is if you can keep your nose clean, an underfunded team can get a good finish. Example one from race one is Mike Bliss, No. 09 Phoenix Construction/Graceway Chevrolet, who finished 10th in the final order. Example two in race two, Johnny Bornemann III who finished fifth in the No. 83 in the Red Line Oil Dodge.

The bad? From the point of the Jeff Burton-Jeff Gordon accident with six laps to go, it took 34 minutes to get to the checkered flag. The green-white-checkered three-peat took 21 minutes. Happily none of the leaders ran out of gas.

No cheering in the press box. Darrell Waltrip has completely thrown this old adage out of the press box. His cheering for “Junebug” a.k.a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. early in the season and now his younger brother Michael Waltrip when he almost led a lap. Shouting “C’mon Michael!” was over the line. In rare circumstances it works, such as Bobby Unser in the ABC booth during the 1987 Indianapolis 500 interviewing his younger brother Al who had just won his fourth “500.” In 1992, Ned Jarrett cheering his son, Dale, advising his son and viewers looking on that he needs to stay low on the track to hold off the legendary Dale Earnhardt. In 2001, we heard DW cheering his brother Michael in winning the Daytona 500 and then knowing that something was wrong with the No.3 car that had just crashed, memorable and sobering moments in big-time events. Cheering makes good TV in rare instances, not some innate lap in a middle of a race.

Why does Mike Joy keep measuring Juan Pablo Montoya’s historic victories in the 2000 Indy 500 victory and 2003 Grand Prix of Monaco to any NASCAR event that Montoya runs up front? Joy is an historian of auto racing, who’s knowledgeable in many areas of motorsports. Mike, why do you keep doing this?

Did I tell you I’m sick of hearing about Sunoco race fuel? When are the cars going to fill up with Sunoco race fuel? Did the car top off with Sunoco race fuel? Hope he doesn’t run out of Sunoco race fuel. Sunoco race fuel, Sunoco race fuel.

The ugly. Why is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. still in the No.6 Roush car? Pitiful finishes, today takes out his teammate and franchise driver Carl Edwards causing “the big one” in the Nationwide race on Sunday. Granted Stenhouse said he was being pushed himself causing the crash. In a series in which many good drivers are tossed to the side, Stenhouse struggles with little upside. There is one talented Roush driver waiting in the wings and can bring the No. 6 back to the front, Erik Darnell. Time to make the switch.

McMurray forcing himself in front of Clint Bowyer on the last lap of the Nationwide race. I know why he did, so does he, doesn’t make it right. Sometimes McMurray is a driver that looks like a champion one week and a rookie the next.

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