After a rare NASCAR off-weekend to celebrate Easter – Jeff Gordon and his wife and kids marked the occasion by taking part in the annual White House egg roll and egg hunt – the four-time champ is ready to get back to his hunt for a fifth and final championship this Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
The last time we saw Gordon at TMS – last November’s Chase for the Sprint Cup race – he was first punted late in the event by Brad Keselowski, and then got into one of the most memorable and large-scale fistfights the sport has seen in decades with the same Bad Brad.
With an assist to Kevin Harvick, who pushed Keselowski into the fray rather than just let him remain all talk and no action.
Afterwards, Keselowski and Gordon both had fat lips and blood on their faces, but there were no apologies then – and there remain none as of today.
Keselowski doesn’t feel he owes Gordon a mea culpa, and Gordon feels the same way.
Since neither of the two drivers are willing to talk it out among themselves, perhaps it’s time for NASCAR to step in and sit the two drivers down to hash out their differences and potentially come to a resolution.
While such a move would be a rarity for NASCAR, does NASCAR want a repeat performance between Keselowski and Gordon this Saturday night at TMS?
If that were to occur, what would that say about NASCAR not doing all it could to prevent a rematch? Sure, the sanctioning body has used video footage of the donnybrook in promotional efforts to make fans all the more interested and excited.
But the last thing NASCAR needs is two guys head-hunting the other on the race track. Be it Texas or Bristol or Talladega or Loudon, if Keselowski and Gordon haven’t settled their little spat from last November and have ultimately let it continue to simmer, it’s almost inevitable that yet another dust-up on- and potentially off-track will happen once again.
Sprint Cup racing is not the NHL, where fighting is encouraged. Plus, NASCAR doesn’t have a penalty box, per se.
Plus, having the steering wheel of a 750-horsepower car can be much more dangerous than a wooden hockey stick.
I get why Gordon and Keselowski won’t make amends to each other. It’s all about ego or machismo. Apologizing – or at the very least, talking about what happened in November – could be perceived as a sign of weakness that might bring about other drivers eventually getting into the fray.
Like an infected tooth, the last thing you want in NASCAR – especially in the final season of one of its greatest drivers ever – is to let a grudge linger, because sooner or later, somebody’s going to attempt payback.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather Gordon be remembered for his driving skill, race wins and championships than getting even.
What happens if Gordon finds himself out of the Chase in this season’s closing races, and goes after Keselowski (who may still be in contention at that point for the championship) to pay back last November’s fight.
How could NASCAR penalize Gordon? What’s more while last November’s fight between the two did increase fan interest in the final two races of the season, that kind of formula can only work so long before it’s overused, turning people off and away.
NASCAR needs to get Keselowski and Gordon together before this Saturday’s race to talk things out and maybe even shake hands. Even if neither still fails to accept culpability, at least shaking hands would be a start towards something that desperately needs to be resolved.
Jerry Bonkowski writes for NASCAR Talk at NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JerryBonkowski.