By admin | August 10, 2009
By Richard Allen
Hard wrecks are supposed to occur at Talladega or Daytona or Bristol, right? That was certainly not the case for Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon as well as Sam Hornish and Jeff Burton.
Earnhardt took a wild ride on lap 41 of the Heluva Good at the Glen. Junior said the brakes went away on the #88 Chevrolet. Unfortunately for Reed Sorenson in car #43, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was forced into the sand trap.
At least Sorenson was able to refire his car and get going. Junior was not so lucky. It was actually fortunate for him that the sand trap was there. That safety system allowed his car to scrub off speed before he went head-on into the tire barrier. The HMS car was badly damaged, but was eventually returned to the track. Junior scored a 39th place result.
“Going into three, I mashed the brake and it worked for a split second but it felt like it blew a hose or a brake line or something,” Junior explained. “I tried to miss the 43 and couldn’t do a good job at that but there wasn’t much I could do.”
Earnhardt is now 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. It is worth noting that he was 19th after the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. It was after that race when his cousin Tony Eury, Jr. was replaced as crew chief by Lance McGrew.
As bad as the day was for Earnhardt, it was even worse for Jeff Gordon.
The four time NASCAR champion has suffered from a back ailment all season. A hard crash on lap 62 did little to help that situation.
Sam Hornish was forced off the track by Kasey Kahne as the cars exited the part of the road course often called the carousel. The #77 Dodge bounced off a tire barrier and back into the path of oncoming traffic. Gordon had no where to go and struck the Hornish car. Then, Gordon slammed head-on into the inside retaining wall. Jeff Burton was also collected in the mess and a number of other cars barely avoided the incident and its resulting debris field.
Fortunately, Gordon was able to walk away from the hard impact. However, he did feel effects.
“That’s not what I needed,” Gordon admitted. “I seem to take three or four steps forward then go back.
“That took a toll on my back,” he went on to explain. But when asked about the long term effects he was guardedly optimistic. “Michigan’s pretty easy,” he said. “If we were going to Bristol next I’d be concerned.”
Gordon finished 37th but remained in 3rd place overall in the Sprint Cup standings.
Hard crashes only occur at places like Talladega, Daytona and Bristol, huh? Don’t tell that to half of team Hendrick.
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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