Jeff Gordon has been looked upon as one of the great ambassadors for NASCAR.
The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was a mentor for many drivers and a fan favorite. The only people who really despised Gordon were the Dale Earnhardt fans, but even they respected his driving skills on the track.
Gordon’s reputation and legacy in the sport may be tarnished after his actions on the track in the AdvoCare 500 in Phoenix on Sunday.
Gordon has had a feud with Clint Bowyer ever since Bowyer wrecked him and his teammate Jimmy Johnson at Martinsville earlier this season. Since the Martinsville incident, Gordon and Bowyer have raced each other aggressively, but finally Gordon had enough.
After Bowyer got into Gordon’s fender, Gordon tried to spin Bowyer into the wall. Gordon missed and sent his own car into the wall. Instead of going to the pits, Gordon waited for Bowyer on the racetrack and sought revenge. Gordon spun Bowyer into the wall, collecting Joey Logano as well.
The “Boys have at it” philosophy is good for the sport, but it must be done at the right time. Gordon decided to take actions into his own hands and take out Bowyer, who was racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Bowyer is overachieving this year and he may never be in position to win the title with only one race to go. Gordon picked the wrong time to spin out Bowyer.
Another unwritten rule in the “Boys have at it” philosophy is that a driver who seeks revenge, should try to do it without collecting innocent bystanders. Logano was trying to finish his last two races at Joe Gibbs Racing on a high note. He was running in the top 10 all day. Gordon’s action ruined what could have been one of Logano’s strongest finishes of the season.
It is hard to say what effect Gordon’s actions on Sunday will have on his legacy in NASCAR. It will all depend on what actions NASCAR decides to take.
If NASCAR decides to suspend Gordon for the final race of the season, his legacy will be tarnished. If NASCAR decides to place Gordon on probation, fans will soon forget what happened in the desert.
Luckily for Gordon, there is only one race left in the season. If this happened during the summer, the media and fans would have talked about it for months.
Gordon has some time after the season ends to do some damage control before the cars line up in Daytona in February. One thing is for sure, Gordon is no longer playing the role of Mr. Nice guy.
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