Woody: Good To See Gordon On The Go
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Remember when a sizable segment of NASCAR fans used to boo Jeff Gordon because they considered him too goody-goody, too California-cool, too GQ?
Wonder how they like him now?
Last Sunday at Sonoma Gordon drove like a crazed moonshine runner, taking no prisoners and winning no friends. The Boy Scout turned into a Hell’s Angel.
The way Gordon hammered his way through the field reminded me of a fellow named Earnhardt. Senior, that is.
After it was over and the wrecker drivers had collected their overtime pay, Gordon issued an apology. Well, sort of. He said he was sorry for everybody he’d run over except Kurt Busch. Busch, said Gordon, had it coming.
So now everybody is huffy and peeved and vowing vengeance on the No. 24 cannonball-on-wheels. They’ll get their shot this weekend at New Hampshire. Reckon all that fussin’ and feudin’ will have fans sitting up straighter in their Lazy-Boys? You bet it will.
It’s about time someone started racing like they mean it. I’m tired of all the buddy-buddy, warm-and-fuzzy nonsense. NASCAR has become so sweet and syrupy that watching a race can give you cavities.
Before long they’ll start a race with the national anthem and end it with all the drivers holding hands and singing Kum Ba Ya.
Drivers getting their firesuits in a wad is good for business, especially when a hero/villain superstar like Jeff Gordon is doing the agitating.
Understand, Gordon was never really the mild-mannered choirboy racer that his off-track persona suggests. We’ve seen him go toe-to-toe with the great Earnhardt – The Intimidator – and come out on top.
Gordon is one of the greatest stock car racers in history, make no mistake. But he’s been in slump in recent seasons – at least by his past standards –and I suspect that’s what inspired his recent reckless abandon.
He’s got a legacy to chase and the clock is ticking.
Gordon is having a good season by most standards, perched fifth in the point standings. But he is winless through 16 races and there’s the rub.
Jeff has come close, agonizingly close, several times this season but hasn’t been able to seal the deal. Hence, the burr under his saddle.
He has two choices: continue to cruise along and settle for safe second and thrifty thirds, or put the hammer down and go for wins. I think we saw Gordon’s decision last Sunday.
Again, that’s refreshing; I’m tired of hearing the TV guys praise drivers for “looking at the big picture” and “point-racing” to protect their position in the standings. Some old-time fans remember a time when the point of racing wasn’t points – it was to win the race. Somehow, somewhere, the sport got away from that.
Was Gordon rough and reckless at times last Sunday and he tried to hammer his way to the front? You bet he was. Did he peeve some of his fellow drivers and ruffle some feathers? You bet he did.
Good for Gordon. If he keeps driving like that, we’re going to see more 24 tattoos showing up in the chicken-bone sections of the grandstands, and fans who once booed “Wonder Boy” will be squalling, “Give-um-ell Jeffy!”
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments