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Woody: A Snit At Hendrick? ‘Bout Time

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 22 2010

Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were not smiling as they talked about each other after Monday's race at Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

If there really are some ill feeling festering between teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, all I can say is:

‘Bout time.

I think the buddy-buddy nonsense among teammates has gone far enough. If fact, it went way too far last season when Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson swapped charity points in a couple of races.

First Jimmie slowed down while leading to allow Mark a free pass and five bonus points. Later on Mark repaid the favor.

Deliberately slowing down to allow another driver – teammate, best buddy, golfing pal, whoever – is shameful. It nudges NASCAR as close to pro wresting as a driver can get without donning leotards.

I think a lot of fans are sick of all the mushy teammate stuff. If it’s really “every driver for himself” when the race starts, why don’t they act like it?

It’s not healthy for the sport when teammates become too chummy – and especially nowadays when there are as many as four of them in one race.

I preferred the old days when it was truly every racer for himself, instead of the trend in recent years to work together. Helping a teammate beat another driver creates a gray area; deliberately giving a teammate championship points is not at all gray – it’s outright point-fixing.

Yet we continue to hear TV commentators suggest that one driver cut another driver “some slack” because he’s his teammate.

What a bunch of baloney. They can be pals before the race. They can be pals after the race. But during the race they’re supposed to be opponents, with all bets off.

I used to consider race drivers the fiercest competitors on the planet. Men like Dale Earnhardt would do whatever it took, to whoever got in his way, to win a race.

That’s not the case any more. There’s no question that some of today’s drivers take it easier on a teammate – they literally give them a pass — and that’s shameful.

Racing’s not supposed to be a team sport, at least not driver vs. driver, but that’s what it has become in this era of multi-car teams. Warm and fuzzy has replaced wild and reckless and that helps account for some of the lackluster non-racing we’ve seen in recent years.

Sometimes it almost seems that certain drivers are more interested in taking care of a teammate than they are in winning the race.

That’s why I think it’s good to see Jeff and Jimmie going at it. Good for them. They can chum it up all week long if they want to, but on Sunday afternoon the buddy system should go out the window.

The only friend a driver should have during the race is the man holding the checkered flag. Everybody else is the enemy.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 22 2010
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  • Sandra Monacelli says:

    Bout time someone wrote what I’ve been feeling! Thanks Woody…you hit the spot on this one.