6:31 PM EST, November 12, 2012
Jeff Gordon should have parked at Homestead this Sunday.
Give him a time out and let him think about the consequences of his actions.
No soup for you, my friend.
Instead, NASCAR opted for the easy fix Monday, fining Gordon $100,000, docking him 25 championship driver points and putting him on probation until Dec. 31.
Sorry. Gordon got off easy.
I have a great deal of respect for Gordon. He is one of the classiest guys in NASCAR history. He is a four-time champion and a great ambassador for the sport. But what he did to Clint Bowyer at Phoenix over the weekend was unconscionable.
You can talk about payback. You can scream they have a history -- and Bowyer certainly deserved to get his based on my scorecard -- but this went too far.
These guys are not BFFs. They have played bumper cars for awhile now, including several incidents at Martinsville, where one bump-and-grind scenario cost Bowyer, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson a chance at a victory. So when Bowyer got into Gordon's car again at Phoenix, Gordon couldn't take it anymore. He chased Bowyer down and wrecked him intentionally.
That led to a surreal scene in which the pit crews for both drivers got into a scrum, Bowyer tried to chase down Gordon by running to his hauler, and police officers were needed to guard the NASCAR hauler where Gordon was getting a "talking to" from NASCAR officials.
"I've had it, was fed up with it and got him back," Gordon said after the incident.
The war spilled over to Twitter, where country-and-western star Blake Shelton sparred with Gordon's wife, Ingrid Vandebosch.
"Hey @Elliott_Sadler... Did you see that [bleep] the 24 car [Gordon] pulled today?!! Glad Clint wasn't hurt..." Shelton tweeted.
"Hey Blake did you see that #$^^%^*()) the 15 [Bowyer] pulled on the 24 the past 5 weeks?" Vandebosch shot back.
"The 24 should be parked! He took out 5 cars in that BS!" wrote Denny Hamlin, chiming in on the controversy.
Although getting some juice in cyberspace is a good thing for NASCAR, having drivers trying to maim each other is not.
NASCAR chose the path of least resistance, ignoring the bad blood lingering as the road show travels to Homestead for the season-finale. Asked about any potential retribution, Bowyer said: "We'll just have to see."
What if these guys go after each other again and take out leader Brad Keselowski, who leads Johnson by 20 points? NASCAR's 2012 champion would be tarnished with an asterisk forevermore.
"I spent a whole week being bashed by a half a dozen drivers about racing hard at Texas and how I'm out of control and have a death wish, and then I see [expletive] like that," Keselowski said. "That's [expletive]. That's all you can call that. These guys just tried to kill each other. You race hard and I get called an [expletive] for racing hard and called with a death wish, and I see [expletive] like that, and it just [expletive[ me off.
"It's just [expletive] ridiculous, and they should be ashamed. It's embarrassing.''
Gordon effectively crushed any shot that Bowyer had at winning the title. You simply can't do that. It goes beyond NASCAR's 'boys have at it" rules of engagement.
"I'm all for 'boys, have at it.' '' Speed channel analyst Kyle Petty said. "But wrecking people is not 'boys, have at it.' ''
Let's hope NASCAR doesn't regret its decision to give Gordon a free ride this Sunday.