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The Stories Just Keep Getting More Awesome

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 23 2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and team owner Rick Hendrick had an interesting weekend in Michigan. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

What a week for racing wags, eh? Torn between two stories. Danica runs over a shoe or Jeff Gordon gets mad at Dale Earnhardt Jr. Where to start?

Probably with the end of Hendrick Motorsports as we know it.

It started when Earnhardt dropped low on the track during a restart and forced a four-wide situation during the Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. He then came back up the track, forcing Gordon, who was to his right, to lift and lose momentum.

Gordon, his playoff chances hanging by a piece of frayed and plaque-fouled dental floss, went on his two-way and dropped a few choice words about Earnhardt, his Hendrick teammate.

Earnhardt wondered back: What’s Gordon’s problem.

Twitter exploded like a toad under a truck tire.

Some of us social networking types think they should have stopped the race. To allow racing – a mere sporting event – to continue after an event like that is irresponsible on NASCAR’s part. ESPN should have stepped in. Was Mike Helton sleeping through all of that.

It was, like, a driver getting mad at another driver during a race. Teammates, no less. Hendrick teammates, no less. Gordon and freakin’ Junior, no less.

One can only imagine what will happen this week at Bristol, aka, The Crucible. Hope Goodyear is bringing a tire that retains its grip in blood.

And how about Danica Patrick running over a shoe, surely costing her her first victory in Nationwide.

That incident came at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In Canada. Figures. Canada has long been regarded by security

OMG, a shoe on the track in Canada. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

types as a dagger pointed at the heart of Greenland.

Militant Canadian chauvinistas lobbing shoes onto a racing circuit – the only surprise is that somebody’s foot was not still inside the shoe.

Of course, another toad under another truck tire on Twitter. Many tweets actually making fun of the situation. Good thing serious journalists were on hand to put the event in its proper, serious-as-a-tumor perspective.

The Chase is still a couple weeks away. Then 10 races in a row for the big ugly trophy. But for many of us, the 2012 racing season will be remembered for the third weekend in August.

Jeff Gordon, back before rage against his teammate consumed his sanity, had a very interesting thing to say about NASCAR’s decisions on yellow flags.

The context of his remarks were events at Watkins Glen two weeks ago, when officials sat on the yellow and red flags late in the race even though a blown engine laid a layer of oil down on the racing surface and was sending cars spinning and wrecking.

“When I watch an NBA game,” Gordon said last week, “I want to see them foul at the end; let them play the game. So, that’s why I have to take myself out of the equation there. That was a fantastic finish to the race; very entertaining. It was great for the sport; great for Marcos (Ambrose, the winner) and even for Brad (Keselowski, who finished second). That was cool.

“But somebody pays the price and those guys aren’t going to be happy with that and that’s the way racing is. Not everybody is going to be happy with the way things end up, and I was one of those. But yeah, if I’m not a competitor out there, then I want to see these races not be controlled. I just want consistency, though, you know? It’s like one week let’s throw a caution and the next week it’s oh, don’t throw a caution. So, I think that’s the only thing that’s a little bit discouraging at times is just the lack of consistency.”

Gordon probably did not like what he saw in the Nationwide race.

Cars are crashing and flying to pieces for the first part of the race at the Montreal road course and; no flags.

Then, with the race on the line with four to go, a slight spin by Mike Wallace brings out yellow.

For good measure, as the field gets ready to take the green on a green/white/checkered finish and with fuel running low on lead cars, the lights go back on on the pace car. Supposedly, more debris needed to clean up.

Consistency in officiating? Mind your own business, Gordon.

Jacques Villeneuve continues to enrage the NASCAR loyalists. In Montreal, the local hero again hacked away at the competition with his bumper in a mad quest – hey, he’s Canadian – for glory.

The sad part about the Montreal NNS race: Villeneuve does not have to drive that way to prove himself. He could have taken Alex Tagliani cleanly, he could have won the race cleanly.

The guy is a former World Champion from the days when driving talent mattered more than bringing money in Formula 1. He puts on road racing clinics in the big, heavy stock cars. It’s racing beauty of the best kind.

But just as you’re about to jump out of your seat and shout bravo, he torpedos somebody.

Finally…ESPN couldn’t put the Little League World Series on hold for 10 more minutes in order to hear from participants in highly contentious NNS finish?

Geez, hate to anger 37 parents trying watching their little darlings trying to be just like the big guys in terms of gracelessness, self-centeredness and arrogance.

Next up on ESPN: Insiders debate the top tattoos of South Williamsport.

OK, off to the big valve spring sale at Hendrick shop.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 23 2012
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