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Based on NASCAR precedent, Gordon should not(and should) be racing this weekend

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.

Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer proved that NASCAR can still have emotion and passion

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.”)

Brad Keselowski goes flying in Atlanta after contact from Carl Edwards.

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.

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6 Responses to “Based on NASCAR precedent, Gordon should not(and should) be racing this weekend”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    There does seem to be a set of rules for the Bush’s and a set of rules for the rest of the drivers.

    I’ll be nice while your in mourning, Rich ……..GO VANDY

  2. The Old Guy Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 9:27 am

    One correction to your article, them my comment.

    Gordon was not set up the track into the wall as a result of the intitial contact. Gordon sent himself into the wall as a result of his first missed attempt at retalliation. Much in the same way Danica Patrick did a couple of weeks earlier. I can only suppose that Gordon was so embarrased at that that his anger did, in fact, get the better of him.

    RE: Carl/Brad Atlanta incident. At the time of that incident, BK had fueds going on with a number oc Cup Drivers (Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin were the most well known) and I think NASCAR turned a blind eye to it.

    The incident that should have Parked Carl Edwards took place during a Nationwide series a few weeks later. Carl took out Brad and wrecked about ten cars. Again, NASCAR turned a blind eye. Now, we not the relationship, and history, of Jack Rousch and NASCAR, so neither could be called any kind of favoritism toward the Car owner.

    Carl, and I’m a fan, should have been parked after the Nationwide incident, but was not.

    Kyle Busch was parked because he’s Kyle Busch and the Brother of Kurt Busch. But, Kyle deserved to be parked.

    So, Rich is right. A case can be made either was based on NASCAR’s track record.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I wish Driver Discipline has a clear blueprint in the future.

  4. oldirtracker Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I dont understand why no mention by the media of Jeff Burton dumping Danica Patrick at the end of the race. It was blatent and cowardly. Guess he did not like being outrun by a girl.

  5. John Cooke Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    With declining TV ratings for the Chase, and the championship pretty much decided, I knew NASCAR would not suspend Jeff Gordon. I’m a Gordon fan and feel he should have sat this race out for his actions. But, when the incident was on the national ABC News, owners of ESPN, I knew it was exactly what they wanted. How many eyeballs will be watching now to see if Bowyer retaliates? Great for the ratings, right!

  6. Scott Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t know what precedent you’re referring to, the one where a guy that hasn’t intentionally laid a fender to someone in years wrecks one guy on purpose, or the one where a guy intentionally lays fenders, bumpers to his competition on a weekly basis (wrecking several of them), and flips officials the bird, wrecks a guy on purpose.