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Jeff Gordon Retroactive: Gordon vs. Kenseth Feud Continued at Chicagoland

Matt Kenseth wasn’t very happy with Jeff Gordon following the USG 400 in 2006.

With four laps remaining and Kenseth leading, Gordon drove his Chevrolet to the bumper of the 2003 Winston Cup Champion and spin him out in turn two. The caution sent the race into overtime with Gordon taking his first victory at the 1.5-miler.

“That wasn’t an accident. He ran over me,” Kenseth said following the race. “On the restart, he was hanging back and NASCAR has a rule that you can’t hang back, although I’ve never seen it enforced. He was hanging back because I was a little weak on restarts.”

Gordon made a backhanded apology.

“I certainly didn’t mean to wreck him,” Gordon said. “But I didn’t mind moving him out of the way, either.”

“On long runs, we had the best car and I hate to win one like that,” Gordon said. “Matt ran a great race. I got in there hard, he blocked me a couple times and I jumped back in the gas. Matt knew he blocked me on the restart. If I wanted to spin him, I could have spun him then.”

Chicago was in Kenseth’s wheelhouse too. For the second consecutive year, he had led the most laps in the race.

The two had a bit of a history in 2006, beginning at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier in March. It was the final lap of the Sharpie 500 and Kenseth pulled the ‘bump and run’ heading into turn four with the checkers in sight.

That move allowed Kenseth to take the lead in the standings.

Following the race, Gordon would spin Kenseth on pit road, which would later result in a penalty.

As Kenseth went to see Gordon to tell his side of the story, a shoving match an and verbal exchanged ensued. But it pretty much ended there. For the remainder of the 2006 season, the two played nice and put the incidents behind them.

With his final start at Chicagoland, Gordon, starting tenth as a result of the cancellation of qualifying, will look to grab his first win of the season at a track that brings back a storied memory.

 

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CALINOFF: NBC Stands for NASCAR’S Best Coverage

NBC has a rich history of broadcasting premier sporting events.

Beginning in the late 1930’s they’ve provided coverage – at one time or another – for every major stick and ball sport, as well as the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

It’s safe to say that if you’re an avid sports fan, the colorful Peacock in the upper right-hand corner of your screen gives you a sense of comfort.

In 1999, they began their foray into NASCAR.

Along with FOX, FX and TNT, they obtained the broadcast rights to the two top National Touring Series in a six-year deal. NBC televised the second half of the season and alternated coverage of the Daytona 500 with FOX. In December 2005, NBC announced that it would not renew its agreement with NASCAR.

Grab that remote and fast-forward.

The network made its return to NASCAR at Daytona’s Coke Zero 400 this July with the promise of bringing fans a new experience – something they’ve been craving for the past several years.

They’ve kept their promise and, in my opinion, have over-delivered.

The key ingredient in their secret sauce: Relevance.

Lead analysts @SteveLetarte and @JeffBurton made seamless transitions from their respective roles as crew chief and driver.

While Burton competed in only four races during 2014 – two for Michael Waltrip Racing and twice for Stewart-Haas – the proclaimed “Mayor” of NASCAR is current. He’s raced successfully against today’s crop of veterans and rising stars.

Burton brings the viewers inside the cockpit and offers them a real perspective of what it’s like behind the wheel. The explanations of a driver changing his line or the components of a good restart are a bonus to the broadcast. His delivery is refreshing.

Steve Letarte is Superman.

He left a championship-caliber pit box, discarded his uniform, put on a suit and flew into the booth like a seasoned broadcaster. His strengths come from applicable experience, being a savvy strategist and paying attention to detail.

During last month’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 fell off the jack causing damage that flared-out the side skirt. Letarte caught it and the camera zoomed-in to show it. He explained that while it was accidental – it’s illegal to purposely alter the body – and slowed the pit stop, it would not serve as an aerodynamic advantage. Kenseth, who had scored the pole and led the most laps that day, went on to win the race. That’s just one example but, moreover, proof that relevance matters.

With precise play-by-play from @RickAllenracing, the polished reporting on pit road and engaging pre and post-race shows, NBC is building a new model for the way NASCAR broadcasting should be. They also understand that they have a responsibility to entertain – but it isn’t necessary to do so by telling old tales and performing slapstick comedy.

They’ve done an exceptional job at crafting a broadcast team of legitimate players. They have also made clear that the show isn’t about who’s sitting in a booth high above the grandstands. It’s about those on the ground – the real stars of the sport.

The newcomer, regardless of the realm, is always faced with high expectations and the pressures to perform – it’s an inherent element. There are always bigger shoes to fill.

And now, NBC is wearing them.

 

 

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, it’s owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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Eliminations Spruce Up Dover and Gordon Makes a Championship Statement

By Matt Weaver — Well, that certainly lived up to expectations, didn’t it?

Dover will likely never produce the most spectacular racing on the schedule but the added element of playoff eliminations absolutely made up for it and transformed the AAA 400 into one of the more dynamic and dramatic races of the season.

Jeff Gordon won his fourth race of the season on Sunday but was somewhat overshadowed by those eliminated from the Chase for the Championship, a list that includes Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola.

To NASCAR’s credit, they have created a system that certainly generates a considerable amount of talking points at a time of the year when it is needed most, during the first peak of NFL Football season.

While many fans have criticized the lack of passing for the lead and the predominance of clean air, there appeared to be more passing at Dover this year than in season’s past and the Chase bubble provided additional storylines to focus on, even when the battle for the lead grew stale.

Let’s talk about the winner first.

As the regular season champion, Gordon garnered much of the attention as the de facto championship favorite, but the Drive for Five took a backseat to Team Penske when Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won the opening races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. With a win on Sunday, Gordon recaptured the spotlight and made a statement in the process.

Gordon passed Keselowski on the track with 95 laps to go and never looked back, sending the message that the No. 24 team had also saved their best for the final 10 lap stretch of the season.

Their victories entering the second round of the playoffs raise another interesting question. During the regular season, wins resulted in bonus points that carried over into the Challenger Round, providing a cushion of sorts for Keselowski, Logano, Gordon and their fellow race winners. But that rules does not apply to the Contender Round as each of the remaining playoff drivers have been reset to 3000 points regardless of wins.

NASCAR spent all off-season telling teams, media and fans that winning means everything. Now on the eve of a three-race bracket that includes combustible Kansas and Talladega, when bonus points could mean everything, the value of a victory in the Chase means considerably less.

This wins during the Chase should pay the same dividends in the playoffs up until the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And while that would only mean a three-point advantage for Keselowski, Logano and Gordon respectively, this first round proved that a single point could conceivably make all the difference between a championship and staving off elimination.

As for the four eliminated on Sunday, there were no real surprises to come out of Dover. Despite winning at Martinsville in April, Busch never had the look of a champion this season as he battled to develop chemistry with his new team at Stewart-Haas Racing.

The struggles of Biffle have been well-documented and it could be argued that he and his team exceeded expectations given the engineering missteps that Roush Racing made during the spring.

Uber-underdogs Allmendinger and Almirola gave it a more impressive effort than most in the sport believed them capable of but they weren’t perfect, a likely prerequisite for both the No. 47 and 43 teams to advance in the second round. Almirola will be haunted by the blown engine at Chicagoland that ruined his championship run before it truly began while Allmendinger never had the handling to compete with those remaining in the Chase.

The Chase has field has been reset to 12 with seven races remaining. Onwards to Kansas and the Contender Round.