By admin | May 31, 2009
By Richard Allen
It was not a good time for any racers surnamed Gordon this weekend in Dover, Delaware. Jeff and Robby Gordon are not related, except in the brotherhood of pain and misery after being roughed up by the ‘Monster Mile’. The Autism Speaks 400 cost each driver a car and a poor finish.
The results of the weekend brought a different set of tribulations for the two drivers.
Jeff Gordon’s troubles started on Friday when he slammed the wall coming off turn 2 of the concrete, one-mile track during qualifying. His car was destroyed and he was relegated to a back of the pack starting position.
Hendrick Motorsports has plenty of cars so the loss of that particular one is something that could be overcome. The real problem for Gordon is what the wreck did to his ailing back.
Just earlier this season Gordon admitted he has suffered from chronic back pain for a while. That pain has gotten worse as this year has gone on. A hard, jolting hit like the one he took on Friday certainly did not do his back any good. He acknowledged on Sunday morning that he was in pain but he hoped sitting in the driver’s seat would do him some good.
Whether the race did his back any good or not is one matter, but the fact that he ran poorly for the first half of the race is another. The four time champion fell behind in the early stages of the race and was never able to recover. He was lapped when a caution came out after he had pitted but other lead cars had not. Then during a long green flag run, he was lapped a second time.
Ultimately, he finished two laps down in 26th place. His poor result caused him to lose the Sprint Cup points lead to 2nd place finisher Tony Stewart. Gordon is now in 2nd place of the standings, 46 points off the lead.
For Robby Gordon the Autism Speaks 400 was painful both financially and physically.
On lap 284 David Stremme lost control of his car which sent him veering into the path of both Gordon and Paul Menard. Robby’s #7 Toyota slammed hard into the inside wall.
Since Gordon drives for his own team rather than a powerhouse like Hendrick Motorsports this accident was a major setback for him. He lost a car and scored a poor finish, which brings on another set of problems.
All of this comes after what seemed like a positive moment in Gordon’s otherwise lackluster season.
On Monday in the Coca-Cola 600 he opted to stay on the track after a caution flag had flown for rain. It turned out to be a fortunate gamble which resulted in a 3rd place result after the race was stopped. However, a post-race inspection turned up a violation related to the angle of his car’s rear end housing. The violation resulted in a 50 point deduction which essentially negated his Top 5 finish.
Gordon’s 33rd place finish in Dover combined with his 50 point penalty from Charlotte has dropped him to 34th in the owner’s point standings, which leaves him perilously close to falling out of the Top 35. Being in the Top 35 assures car owners of a starting spot in the next race.
The ‘Monster Mile’ dealt painful blows to both of these drivers. Indeed, this was not a good weekend to be named Gordon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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