Dan Wetzel:

Beginning of the end for Gordon? Not yet

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports
Beginning of the end for Gordon? Not yet
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Kyle Busch shows a NASCAR official what he thinks about his two-lap penalty

Hmmm, what's there to talk about?

Texas?

Let's get to the mailbag:

Texas reaction

Jay, are we seeing the beginning of the end of Jeff Gordon's career at least as a driver?

Evidence:

1) Gordon is getting new sponsors next year, after so many years with DuPont.

2) Gordon's comments against Johnson earlier this season out of frustration over the attention being placed on Johnson.

3) Another outburst tonight; this time against Jeff Burton. And Burton said he admitted it was his fault. So it would seem Gordon was acting merely out of frustration of his situation at Hendrick right now.

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What are your thoughts on this? Could we see him begin to consider being an owner in the not too distant future and step away from driving?

Phillip
Greenville, N.C.

Yes and no, Phillip. The yes being that Gordon, now 39, is getting older; he's clearly not the dominant driver he was 10 years ago; and at some point, his career has to end.

That being said, Gordon is still very hungry to win, maybe even more so considering he's won only once in his past 111 races. And though he hasn't been to victory lane in more than a year, he's still very, very competitive.

Let's step back for a second and look at what he's accomplished as his career "winds down":

• In 2007, he had 30 top-10 finishes in 36 races – six more than anyone else – won six times and finished a close second in the standings in what was undoubtedly one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career.

• In 2009, he again had more top 10s than anyone else (25), as many top fives as that year's series champion (Jimmie Johnson) and wound up third in the standings.

• This season, only three drivers (Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick) have more top fives than Gordon's 11, and Gordon has led more laps (919) than everyone but Johnson, Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Comparing Gordon to everyone else, he's still very much a top-five driver. It's only when you compare him to Jeff Gordon circa 1998 that the chinks in the armor appear.

I don't think the comments he made toward Johnson earlier in the season and the outburst at Burton this past weekend have anything to do with frustration, but rather with racing fairly. In the case of Burton, Gordon's thinking he just got plowed into the wall head-first while pushing, what, 150 miles per hour? I'd be pretty ticked too.

My question for Gordon is how long are he and Rick Hendrick going to stick with crew chief Steve Letarte? I'm not suggesting that Gordon's winless streak is entirely Letarte's fault, but clearly that combination isn't working well enough to beat Johnson, Hamlin and the like.

Gordon only has so many chances left – probably five more years at most. I just think there needs to be a change there while he still has gas left in the tank, which he does.


No question, just a comment. Yesterday seemed like the 'old days'. Fight, swearing and somebody(people) get fired. Love it.

Rich
Parts unknown


I am all for drivers being themselves, and yes, during races, I understand that when certain things happen, emotions can get the best of a person, however, I think its time for NASCAR to sit Kyle down for a race. Think about this for a second.

In baseball, you flip off an umpire, he will give you a digit right back, and it would be a thumb, and maybe even get suspended a game or two. In soccer, you flip off a referee, and the ref will give you a card in return, maybe a shade of yellow, possibly a shade of red, and if it costs your team a game, in certain parts of the world, you are now dead to some people (and in come countries, literally) In hockey, you flip off a referee, you will probably get 2 in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, and 10 for a Misconduct if the ref is in a good mood, and probably suspended a couple of games. In basketball, you flip off a referee, instant T, and possibly chucked from the game, suspended a game or two, and just helped enforce the stereotype that follows basketball players even more. In football, you flip off a referee, you just gave the other team 15 yards, not to mention that you would probably have just a bit of a smaller paycheck the following week due to the NFL offices wanting to say something about it.

If NASCAR decides to just do what they did at Texas, and that's it, I say Kyle would of gotten off quite lightly compared if he would of did the same thing in other sports. The guy has an attitude problem that only severe punishments can only solve, if they can. I think it's pretty obvious that Kyle feels like he is entitled.

Scott Steudler
Lancaster, Pa.

Well, when you put it that way …

Look, on the one hand you are absolutely right. On the other, NASCAR needs fiery personalities like Busch's.

My take is thus: It's OK to question NASCAR's decisions, but you can't blatantly flip off an official. NASCAR probably should fine Busch, penalize him 50 points, sentence him to 20 hours of wedding planning and let him know they're doing so because of the hand gesture, not anything else.


Jay, I know it's aloud by the rules, but letting the 24 car's pit crew take over for the 48's is preposterous. In football, if your team is not doing well you cannot just borrow players from another team!! You have to play with the players you brought. If they are not good enough to keep you in contention, then you need to change them during the week. I think this challenges the integrity of the sport and NASCAR needs to take a hard look at this. Kevin in Mississippi

Kevin Mullins
Flowood, Miss.

I'm having a tough time figuring this one out. On the one hand, they are teammates, and NASCAR does allow (rightfully so) driver substitutions during the race. On the other, shouldn't you have to dance with who brung ya?

For me, I guess I don't think it's worth getting that worked up about because I don't think it's that big of a deal. It's only a big deal now because of whom it involves.


This and that …

Jay, I really think you're biased against Roush drivers. Kyle Busch is ahead of all of them in the power ranking, and Kyle has absolutely been awful in the chase. awful. Really not in agreement with your rankings.

Bill
New York City

It's not bias, Rich; it's the facts.

Fact is, Kyle has been a contender in just about every single Chase race. He has finishes of ninth, sixth, second and fourth. In the other four, he's been wrecked by David Reutimann; had a mechanical issue; gotten shuffled to the middle of the pack at the end of Talladega; and, well, did himself in at Texas. But before that, he was running near the front.

Oh, and he's won three races this season and led the third-most laps.

On the flip side, only Greg Biffle has won for Roush. Matt Kenseth (despite being fifth in points) has been average, at best, and Carl Edwards has led a grand total of 144 laps all season – or more than 1,000 fewer than Kyle Busch.

Here's the question to ask yourself: On a weekly basis, who would you pick head to head?


I'm just curious to know where Clint Bowyer would be ranked in the Chase if he hadn't been docked points? Thank you.

Shannon Standard
Emporia, Kan.

Emporia, Kansas, population 26,760 – one of whom grew up to race in the Cup Series. You should be proud, Shannon. And to answer your question, Clint would be comfortably in fourth. And don't fret, he could still get there. He trails Carl Edwards by just 80 points.


When is NASCAR going to wise up and fix the system. The fans where cheated out of a great finish at Talladega by a insane and stupid rule. When a wreck happens on the last lap, and like last week at Talladega, happened behind the leaders, they should continue to race to the finish. Freezing the field on the last lap when a wreck happens behind the leaders is stupid, insane and cheats the fans out of a great finish, it is time to fix this rule.

Brad Clarke
Winchester, Kent.

Couldn't disagree with you more on this one, Brad. The wreck at Talladega happened on the frontstretch, meaning all the cars would have come back around right into the teeth of the accident. That would have put a lot of people in danger, including fans in the stands who could potentially have been victims of flying debris.

No, we didn't get the finish we wanted, but that's not NASCAR's fault. Sometimes that's just how it is.


Jay – Need your expertise to settle a "discussion" between a few NASCAR fans. Under current NASCAR rules, who would be the winner of the 1976 Daytona 500??

One side argues that since David Pearson crossed the finish line first, he wins. The other side feels that the field would have been frozen when the yellow came out (when Pearson crashes) and you can not advance your position under yellow, so Petty would be declared the winner (all this overlooks the fact that the pit crew pushed Petty out of the grass) Would NASCAR have reverted back to the 'previous scoring loop' to determine the winner? Interested in your take.

D. Terrell
Atlanta

Great question. Had to go back and watch the tape on this one, and still I wasn't too certain.

On the one hand, yes, the running order would be frozen as soon as the caution flag comes out – which conceivably would give the win to Petty. However, he would have to "pick up the pace car" and finish the race even under caution, which he apparently couldn't have done without a push from his pit crew.

Because Pearson was able to cross the start-finish line first, he would win.

I went to NASCAR to get clarification for you and, yes, Pearson would be the winner even under today's rules.


Fantasy land &hellip

Here are my Fantasy NASCAR picks for the week:

A Group: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson
B Group: Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, David Ragan
C Group: Aric Almirola, Sam Hornish Jr.


Last call …

The thing I hate most about Jimmie Johnson is that makes me root for Denny Hamlin. I mean, I hate Hamlin. We all hate Hamlin, right?

Andy Wardlaw
Burbank, Calif.