It was Kevin Harvick in Victory Lane at Phoenix after passing Kyle Busch with just a few laps remaining to take the win. But no one is talking about that.
The two big stories of the day were Jimmie Johnson losing the points lead to Brad Keselowski after a late race wreck, and Jeff Gordon waiting on Clint Bowyer in order to intentionally wreck him and the fight that followed.
Jimmie Johnson came to Phoenix the Sprint Cup points leader, and a sixth championship seemed to be in sight. But a blown tire sent Johnson hard into the wall and then to the garage for repairs. Johnson left Phoenix with a 20 point deficit to Brad Keselowski. A 15th place finish next week at Homestead will give the title to Keselowski no matter how well Johnson finishes.
Fights, Wrecks and Championship Hopes Gone
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were involved in a minor racing incident that escalated to a major melee late in the race. The two were racing for position and made contact which resulted in Gordon brushing the wall and cutting a tire.
An angry Jeff Gordon slowed on the racetrack and waited for Bowyer to come around. Gordon then crashed Bowyer hard into the wall in retaliation taking out Joey Logano and very nearly Brad Keselowski in the process.
After Gordon climbed from the No. 24 Chevrolet on pit road he was mobbed by Bowyer’s crew and a huge fight broke out between the two race teams.
But it did not end there. When Clint Bowyer heard about all that he made a run for Jeff Gordon’s hauler, and made it to the front door before being stopped. Bowyer was looking to even the score.
Jeff Gordon was wrong to crash Bowyer like that. Plain and simple. That wreck and its aftermath resulted in a lot of wrecked race cars, and nearly took out the championship leader.
Gordon and Bowyer were both summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race, along with several members of both teams. NASCAR should do the right thing and park Gordon for one race as they have done Kyle Busch for a similar incident in the past.
What would you do if you were NASCAR?
Jimmie Johnson saw his lead over Denny Hamlin shrink to 6 Points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings following Hamlinâ€™s win in the Tums Fast Relief 50 at Martinsville Sunday.
That lead may vanish altogether by Tuesday if NASCAR issues a penalty for a part that was confiscated from the No. 48 Chevrolet before the race started.
Dale Earnhardt Jr led 90 laps in todayâ€™s race after starting from the 28th position. Juniorâ€™s No. 88 was just tight enough to make it fast and he rocketed through the field to the lead.
No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus saw how fast Junior was coming. H e radioed to Jimmie Johnson â€œif you hear a great scream and roar youâ€™ll know that Dale took the leadâ€ as Earnhardt closed in on the top spot.
As the field closed in on lap 300 that roar happened as Earnhardt passed Jeff Gordon for the lead.
For 90 laps Earnhardt Nation cheered on their driver. But when Dale made a pit stop the adjustments made the car too tight and it would no longer turn in the corners. Earnhardt fell back to finish 7th.
Gordon turned by Busch
Jeff Gordon was a little too aggressive when he made contact as he passed Kurt Busch on lap 385. Busch immediately returned the favor and put Gordon into the inside retaining wall. I donâ€™t think the payback fit the crime. Do you?
Trouble between teammates
Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick had a little dust-up for several laps as both drivers complained that the other was bumping and banging them.
Part Confiscated from No. 48
Prior to the race NASCAR confiscated a drive shaft cover from the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson. The part is headed back to NASCARâ€™s Research & Development in Charlotte.
If the part is found illegal will they issue a penalty or let it slide? A drive shaft cover seems like a pretty insignificant part as far as a competitive advantage goes. But remember that Clint Bowyer was docked 100 Championship Points a few weeks ago for an height infraction that amounted to about the thickness of a quarter.
That penalty cost Bowyer the lead in the Championship standings. Will Jimmie Johnson get the same call?
In the media center after the race Johnson pleaded ignorance about the part in question. â€œI don’t know what you’re speaking about, to be honest with you. Is this before or after, Johnson asked. When told it was a pre-race issue Johnson responded: â€œI don’t have a clue. Not my job, man, as Juan would say. â€œ
Weâ€™ll see what NASCAR has to say.
Mark Martin went 2 laps down early in the race after a crash into the outside wall. Martin rebounded to finish 2nd in a wrecked race car. â€œReally a great time, great recovery from two laps down,â€ said Martin.
â€œThat last hundred laps was fun. I’ve had guys pass me and I wondered how in the world they did that. Now I see how. What an incredible race car that Alan Gustafson and everyone gave me.â€
As always your comments and opinions are welcome. What was your take on the race?
Gordon’s New Enemy May be the Best Thing to Happen to Him
Jeff Gordon once had a pretty tough driver racing against him to keep him on his toes and make him race his best. That driver wasnâ€™t afraid to bang on Gordonâ€™s bumper, question his manhood and hang nicknames on him like WonderBoy.
That driver was Dale Earnhardt.
Dale would intimidate Gordon and keep him on his toes. Dale Earnhardt made Jeff Gordon a better driver.
It should come as no surprise that Jeff Gordon hasnâ€™t won a championship since 2001.
But now Gordon has a new enemy. Jimmie Johnson. Gordon and Johnson are taking NASCARâ€™s suggestion to â€œhave at it, boysâ€ to heart.
As Jeff Gordon was passing the No. 48 at Talladega Sunday Johnson moved Gordon out of the racing groove and Gordon fell through the field like a rock. Before he could regain his momentum Gordon was involved in a wreck.
“I can tell you the 48 is testing my patience. It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pissed right now.”
“He’s been testing my patience and it’s about reached its boiling point.”
“I was coming 10 mph faster than anybody. I don’t know what it is with me and him right now, but whatever,” Gordon said.
Last week at Texas Gordon moved Johnson out of the way in a pass for the lead. Johnson retaliated by slamming into the door of Gordonâ€™s No. 24 Chevrolet.
“Four time’s a little upset,” Gordon said sarcastically. “He just wants to be treated different than everybody else.”
Jeff Gordon has finally had enough of Jimmie Johnson. And it doesnâ€™t matter that Johnson is his teammate, or that Gordon owns an interest in the No. 48 car, or that Gordon helped Johnson get a ride at Hendrick Motorsports.
Gordon and Johnson are not friends any longer. They are going out for beer and pizza any time soon. Donâ€™t look for Jimmie Johnson to hitch a ride on Jeff Gordonâ€™s jet for the next race.
Jeff Gordon is really fired up over Jimmie Johnson winning all the races and championships. Gordon wants his share.
Jeff, what took you so long? Do you think Jimmie Johnson will get the message?
Photo courtesy NASCAR Media
Jeff Gordon Hands Victory to Jimmie Johnson
Jeff Gordon was pretty upbeat following Sundayâ€™s Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway â€“ despite the fact that a late race pit call cost him the win.
â€œIt was a great day for us, dominating performance.Â The car was awesome, everything was good,â€ said Gordon. “The fact that we lost the race, now Chad looks like a genius.â€
Can he really be all that thrilled after leading 219 laps?
Gordonâ€™s crew chief cost him the race. Why did Steve LeTarte call for only 2 tires?
Gordon proved that he could drive to the lead over and over Sunday. When he overshot his pit stall and had to re-start in traffic he quickly regained the lead.
Maybe Gordon and LeTarte thought Jimmie Johnson was on a 2 tire strategy as well, but Johnson ended up taking 4 tires.
â€œI had no doubt in my mind we could hold him off with four tires,â€ said Gordon. That makes it even more puzzling as to why he only took 2 and virtually handed the race to Johnson.
â€œBetween the two cars, the 48 and the 24, whoever got out front at the end of that race was going to win the race if you had equal tires.Â I mean, we were very, very equal.Â They were better at certain stages of the run, but he couldn’t pass me,â€ said Gordon.
I donâ€™t know if there was any communication between the 24 and 48 teams, but the 4 fresh tires are what won Johnson the race.
â€œYou got to give ‘em credit where credit’s due.Â They’re very strong, a very good team,â€ said Jeff Gordon of the No. 48 team.
Chad Knaus just plain out-strategized Steve LeTarte on pit road.
â€œIt came down to pit stops,â€ said Jimmie Johnson.
So what are Jimmieâ€™s plans for the next race? â€œWe’ll just come back this week and take the trophy again,â€ said Johnson.
So do we even need to have a race in Atlanta Sunday, or do we need to just write Jimmie Johnsonâ€™s name in the record book?
Photo Courtesy Nascar Media