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Monday, November 12, 2012

Jeff Gordon didn't deserve to be parked over Bowyer incident; NASCAR made the right call

Jeff Gordon did not get parked for what happened between him and Clint Bowyer.

Offically, Gordon was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) -- altercation with another competitor on the race track during the race -- and fined $100,000, docked 25 championship driver points and put on probation until Dec. 31. Rick Hendrick, owner of the No. 24 car, also has also been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 car, was found to be in violation of Section 9-4A (at all events, crew chief assumes responsibility of his driver, car owner and team members) and has been placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Should he have been parked? Well, there's two modes of thought about that.

Mode 1: Yes, Kyle Busch got parked when he wrecked Ron Hornaday on purpose in Trucks
There is some validity to this thought process. If you remember, Kyle Busch wrecked Ron Hornaday on purpose in a Truck race when Hornaday was still in the title hunt. Busch was an interloper in that series, and ruined the title chances of a series regular, a cardinal sin in the mind of many fans, and apparently NASCAR too.

I agreed with that suspension, and to some extent that logic should carry over to this situation.

BUT, then there's ...

Mode 2: This kind of back-and-forth battling on track is part of racing at the top levels of racing among top drivers
This is why I wouldn't apply the same punishment here.
Busch's case was a Cup interloper ruining the chances of a Truck regular to win a title.
The Gordon-Bowyer incident involved two competitors in the same series who were battling hard and got made at each other. It happens. At that point in time I don't think Gordon was too concerned about what Bowyer's point standing was. He wanted revenge for wrongs he felt were committed against him and got revenge. It happens almost every week in NASCAR. The fact that it affected the championship shouldn't mean that someone gets parked.

If you drive aggressively, as Bowyer does like most other drivers, other drivers are going to be driving aggressively against you. That's unavoidable.
Did Gordon go too far? Yes he did. But he suffered financially, and in the points, and that's all that needed to be done. I just don't think he crossed the line that would lead to him being parked. NASCAR also saw it that way, as it turned out.
Here's how NASCAR's Robin Pemberton explained their decision:
Following a thorough analysis of the actions that took place during Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, we have issued penalties based upon our review. The decisions announced today cover NASCAR’s full assessment of penalties for the incidents that occurred.
“There’s no doubt that a unique set of circumstances combined with a championship battle on the line resulted in raw emotions coming into play. We consider the penalties appropriate and those involved understand our decision and we expect them to abide by them.”
Some folks might say I'm being a hypocrite here; and think that all you want. But when I look back at the sport's history, many of the greatest moments in the past came from on-track aggression between drivers. By some people's logic, Dale Earnhardt Sr. should have been parked every week back in his heyday.
In other fine news
Brian Pattie, crew chief of the No. 15 car, violated Sections 12-1 and 9-4A and has been fined $25,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 car, has been fined $25,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 and 20-6.7A (cars and drivers will not be permitted to carry onboard computers, automated electronic recording devices, electronically actuated devices, power distribution modules, power conditioners, micro-processors, recording devices, electronic digital memory chips, traction control devices, digital readout gauges and the like, even if inoperable or incomplete). Keselowski had a cell phone in his race car. 
I think the Keselowski fine is pretty silly, but rules are rules I guess.


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