By admin | March 29, 2010
By Richard Allen
When NASCAR said in the off season that they were going to allow their drivers to ‘have at it’, the late race driving by Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon is probably what they had in mind. The two veteran drivers raced each hard and clean for much of the day during the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 in Martinsville. But during the last few laps of that race, the intensity between the former champions picked up.
Gordon came within yards of winning the race. As he led the event coming to the white flag, Kyle Busch spun. Had the #24 car passed the finish line the race would have ended after he coasted back around to take the checkered flag. However, he was just short of the mark which resulted in a green/white/checkered finish.
On the final restart, Gordon and Ryan Newman made up the front row with Kenseth and Denny Hamlin in row two.
Gordon got a good jump and pulled ahead of Kenseth by a car length or more. The #17 Ford drove hard into turn one and tagged the rear bumper of the #24 Chevrolet. As the two raced side by side down the back stretch, Gordon moved over to make contact with Kenseth. The two cars looked as if they were stuck together at the entry of turn three until Kenseth nosed ahead only to be tapped in the right rear by Gordon. The #17 went way wide through turns three and four and fell back in the pack.
“I made sure he wasn’t going to win the race after that,” Gordon said of his retaliatory contact with Kenseth.
This was simply a case of two drivers racing each other the way they got raced which is what ‘having at it’ is all about. Drivers are supposed to race hard for the win and not just be willing to settle in and accept a ‘good points day’ as has so often been the case in recent years.
NASCAR received criticism after the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski incident in Atlanta. This is the type of racing fans pay to see. Granted, depending on whether you are a Kenseth or Gordon fan will influence your thoughts as to who was at fault, but no doubt, most fans enjoyed the competition.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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