By admin | August 19, 2012
By Richard Allen
Jeff Gordon never looked like a particularly serious threat to win the Pure Michigan 400 at the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. But if he could have only gotten to the finish unscathed, he could have at least kept his hopes for a Chase for the Championship alive. And while his title hopes are not necessarily dead, he certainly did take a hit when he suffered engine problems in the middle section of the race.
More than his Chase hopes, Gordon’s popularity(not to mention his merchandise sales) may have been dealt a devastating blow when he ran afoul of his teammate and the sport’s most popular driver in Dale Earnhardt, Jr. during a restart prior to his engine woes.
After Junior blew by Gordon on the bottom side of turn one, Gordon radioed, “Tell the f***ing 88 he can thank me for not wrecking his a**. That was stupid.”
Junior was more than a little miffed at Gordon’s displeasure. “Wreck me!” he exclaimed when told of his teammate’s comments.
After Gordon suffered his mechanical trouble, he hardly backed down from his original remarks. “I didn’t think it was very smart what he did,” he declared. “He took me four-wide and then he slid up in front of me. If I hadn’t checked up, I would have wrecked him and a bunch of us. So it happened and we move on.
“I don’t blame him for taking me four-wide,” the former champion further added. “But if you’re going to take a guy four-wide, don’t come sliding up the racetrack because that is going to wreck you and other people.”
In the end, Gordon wound up with a 28th place finish after coming back from the garage to rejoin the race once repairs were made. That subsequently dropped him to 16th in the Sprint Cup standings. He is now 30 points behind current wildcard position holder Ryan Newman.
Of course, should Gordon win one of the next three races he could move himself back into championship contention. However, he has all but lost the possibility of making the Chase by out-pointing the other drivers with only one win.
Junior finished 4th in the race, and likely sold more merchandise than Gordon as well.
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