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« Why do drivers feel the need to apologize? | Main | Sponsors jumping off the NASCAR ship in a hurry »

Watkins Glen delivers hard knocks to Hendrick mates Gordon and Earnhardt

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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2 Responses to “Watkins Glen delivers hard knocks to Hendrick mates Gordon and Earnhardt”

  1. Jake the Snake Says:
    August 11th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    It seems funny to me that Juniors front tires were locked and not rolling at all despite him saying his brakes went out.

    Go back and check the video. Front tires locked.

    Just another case of the car and crew taking the blame for the driver’s lack of talent.

    Even better is that he said the brakes went out in turn 3. He crashed in turn 10. Either he didn’t know where he was-highly likely- or he just kept on hauling it around the track knowing his brakes were out.

  2. Overra88ted Says:
    August 11th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Hendrick Motorsports is doing everthing but drive the #88 for their OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED (OVER-PAID?), AVERAGE AT BEST? driver, Dale JR. When you can’t rember which one of 43 pit stalls is yours, how could JR. be expected to remember which turn he was in, ovals only have 4 corners, when road racing tracks have more, DUH! That’s why thet have the Dale JR. GPS, “Turn here AMP-HEAD”!

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