NASCAR has proven, once again, that certain drivers can get away with things that those who’s last name is Busch or Keselowski simply cannot.
Case in point: Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Boyer last week at Texas. He came up the track and deliberately put Boyer’s car into the wall under green. A brawl between the two teams ensued in the pits with Gordon right in the middle of it.
Penalties were handed down on Monday. Gordon received a $100,000 fine (He makes that in a weekend), was docked 25 points in the standings (It wasn’t mathematically possible for him to accrue enough points to win the championship anyway) and was put on probation for the rest of the year (In one week the season will be over anyway.)
Where is the suspension?
Gordon’s slap on the wrist must feel like a backhand across the face to Kyle Busch who was suspended after a similar incident in a truck race last year during which he retaliated against Ron Hornaday Jr.
Busch wrecked Hornaday under caution when the speeds were significantly lower than those under green. Still, it was a reckless act that knocked Hornaday out of championship contention.
NASCAR felt that Busch had crossed the line and he was promptly parked for the remainder of the weekend and forced to watch Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race from atop his team’s pit box.
He dropped to 11th in the Chase standings, 100 points out of the lead and was officially eliminated from championship contention.
Kyle’s brother, Kurt Busch, was suspended this year for a comment made to a reporter at Pocono and then again for ignoring a stop order at Talledega.
If NASCAR was consistent with its punishments then Gordon’s blatant diresegard for the drivers around him should have been reason enough to suspend him.
By some miracle Brad Keselowski avoided the pile-up that resulted from Gordon’s temper tantrum. Keselowski, the points leader, was driving the car immediately behind Gordon’s #24 machine. Had he been collected in the rubble, that little outburst could’ve cost Keselowski a championship. Would NASCAR have taken a different approach had that been the case?
I tend to think not. Especially when Keselowski was fined $25,000 and also put on probation after that very race for violating Sections 12-1 and 20-6.7A which states that cars and drivers will not be permitted to carry on-board computers, automated electronic recording devices, etc.
Keselowski had a cell phone.
He’s had it every week and was praised by NASCAR officials in February for bringing attention to the sport through tweets he sent out during a two-hour red flag in the Daytona 500 — the very same officials that penalized him following Sunday’s race.
What changed since February?
Keselowski is on the verge of winning his first Sprint Cup Championship for one thing. He’s not exactly Mr. Vanilla either. Maybe NASCAR would prefer the watered down, play-it-safe champion that Jimmie Johnson was and are a little perturbed that the new points leader gave an interview that included some choice words about double standards.
Keselowski, like the Busch brothers, will learn the hard way that some drivers can get away with anything while others have to walk the line or suffer the consequences.
Danica Patrick intentionally wrecked a fellow competitor for the second time this season when she spun Landon Cassill halfway through the Hollywood Casino 400 last month at Kansas Speedway. The first time she did it was at Talladega in the Nationwide Series.
After the wreck at Kansas, Danica was interviewed on ESPN, where she admitted that she caused the wreck on purpose.
Yet NASCAR maintains that there is no selective punishing.
Since Gordon’s retaliation wreck on Sunday, some of the sport’s analysts have offered the opinion that drivers with a history of outlandish behavior warrant more severe consequences.
If they’re implying that Gordon is a first-time offender I’m going to have to object and beg pardon if I’m wrong but was it not Wonder Boy, Jeff Gordon who was throwing bows with Jeff Burton two seasons ago after a crash at Texas?
The fact of the matter is that NASCAR picks and chooses who it will chastise and when. I’m all for letting the drivers settle disputes on the track. Quite frankly I think it’s beneficial to the sport when there’s a little feuding and drivers are able to express themselves.
But what’s good for Busch or Keselowski should be good for Gordon, Johnson and Tony Stewart.
Earlier this season at Bristol Stewart crow-hopped across pit road to sling his helmet into a driver’s windshield, vowing retaliation.
One would’ve expected NASCAR to handle the situation in the same manner they handled the Busch brothers’ incidents, after all, “Smoke” has a reputation for being a hothead too.
Nothing, not even a fine.
Afterward, even Stewart expressed his concern about NASCAR’s methods of determining punishments.
“I figured I was going to get some kind of a penalty for it, so that’s nice to know that’s something you can get away with,” he said. “I just wish we could get a more lengthy list of what we can and can’t do.”
Unfortunately, that will never happen because if the rules were clear then NASCAR would have to treat all of its drivers the same and obviously that’s not something they’re prepared to do.
Gordon got the Lucky Dog Free Pass on this one.