By admin | November 17, 2012
By Richard Allen
If you use NASCAR precedent as a guide, it could be argued that Jeff Gordon should not be racing this weekend. And, if you use NASCAR precedent as a guide, it could be argued that Jeff Gordon should be racing this weekend.
In other words, NASCAR precedent when it comes to disciplinary rulings provides no real guideline in terms of what to expect after an incident has occurred.
As has been well documented, Gordon got into a major dust up with Clint Bowyer during last week’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix. After their two cars touched late in the race, Gordon’s #24 Chevrolet was sent up the track and into the outside wall.
As the field continued on under green flag conditions, Gordon limped around the one-mile facility well off the pace. However, when Bowyer’s #15 Toyota attempted to pass by the slower #24 car, Gordon veered into the #15 and sent it into the retaining barrier.
Both cars were then heavily damaged and done for the day. But, the drivers were far from done for the afternoon. Gordon found himself in the midst of a melee with Bowyer’s crew members before being separated and ushered off to his team’s hauler. At that point, Bowyer took off in a televised dash through the garage area in an attempt to get at Gordon.
But the real issue is whether or not there was intent involved in the on track contact. The first touch in which Bowyer moved inside Gordon before the two cars touched appeared to be the result of hard racing. However, the second altercation on the asphalt took on the look of an intentional payback.
As a matter of fact, neither Gordon nor crew chief Alan Gustafson denied that Bowyer was taken out on purpose. Further, Gordon had ignored a black flag shown to him by NASCAR as he was circulating around the track at slow speed.
So, since there is little question of Gordon’s intent, what should be done to the four time champion? In cases such as this, precedent is the key to deciding punishment.
But therein lies the problem. NASCAR’s punishments tend to be all over the page. Consistency is not the sanctioning body’s strong suit in such matters.
Just over one year ago, Kyle Busch was “benched” by NASCAR after he intentionally took Ron Hornaday out during a Camping World Truck Series event in Texas. In circumstances similar to those in Phoenix, a so called “racin’ deal” escalated into a full fledged and deliberate crash in the next set of turns. The caution flag had just been displayed before the final crash.
So, an intentional crash equates to a driver being benched, right? Well, not necessarily.
In 2010, Carl Edwards sent Brad Keselowski for a wild ride in Atlanta after the two had come together earlier in the race. Previously, Keselowski had won a race in Talladega after he had sent Edwards flying on the last lap. While Edwards likely did not intend for Keselowski’s car to fly through the air in Atlanta, many observers believed the contact was intentional. (Edwards essentially admitted as much after the crash when he said “Brad knows the deal between him and I. The scary part is that car went airborne, which was not what I(pause) expected.”)
But in the end, NASCAR chose not to park Edwards. Instead, a very light three week probation was delivered to the offending driver.
There can be multiple excuses made as to why Busch should have been parked, and his detractors have used them all. He had a previous track record, Hornaday was a championship contender, the caution flag was out, or simply, he’s an ass. None of those really provides a clear reason as to why his intentional wreck was different from the others.
So what’s the real precedent? Obviously the answer is there isn’t one. As a result, based on previous examples we can say that Jeff Gordon should not be racing this weekend. And we can say that Jeff Gordon should be racing this weekend.
NASCAR needs to be more clear in their rulings, but don’t hold your breath.
Topics: Articles |