By admin | March 19, 2012
By Richard Allen
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon were both having good runs for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway until things went awry late in the race. On lap 361, the two cars made slight contact which ultimately caused Gordonâ€™s car to suffer a cut left rear tire. That, in turn, sent the #24 Chevrolet into the outside wall and ended his chances for a win or any sort of a good finish.
Immediately, both drivers began stating their cases over their team radios.
“Thank you, June,â€ Gordon said to his crew as he and his car sat helplessly on the track apron. â€œAppreciate it, buddy. I was just getting ready to give it (the position) to him, too.”
For his part, Earnhardt stated multiple times that the two cars barely touched and that there was no ill intent on his part. He also sent an apology to be delivered through his spotter to the Gordon team.
In reality, this incident was little more than a case of plain old bad luck. The two cars did make only the slightest of contact. But as that luck would have it, the header pipes on the #88 car touched the left rear tire on the #24 car. As a result of rubber coming in contact with red hot metal, the tire was damaged.
It would seem highly unlikely that there was any intent on Juniorâ€™s part as the odds of such a thing happening, intentional or not, are so slim that it would be impossible to plan. However, that didnâ€™t seem to make Gordon feel any better.
Hours after the incident, Gordon posted on Twitter that it was, â€œUnfortunate what happened today. Big hit in points & missed opp for a strong finish. Doesn’t help when its contact with teammate.â€
Teammate or not, this was just a â€œracinâ€˜ dealâ€ But it certainly was a blow to Gordon and his team after what looked like a certain top-5 finish was lost. He ultimately finished 35th on the day which dropped him six spots to the 23rd place in the overall standings. He is 74 points behind current points leader Greg Biffle and 38 points in back of the all important Chase for the Championship qualifying 10th place in the standings.
Earnhardt is currently the highest running HMS car in the 6th spot of the standings after his 15th place finish in Bristol. Junior was later busted for speeding on pit road which also cost him a potential top-5 result.
Hard to imagine a worse start to 2012 for Hendrick Motorsports http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1727
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