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Stories behind top motorsport stories

  • Cars in a parking lot

There are always two sides to a story, and stories behind stories.

Here are two of them — one in NASCAR and one in IndyCar.

Going into tomorrow’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship will be decided between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, there are still postscripts being written about last Sunday’s brawl in Phoenix between crew members for Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer is still crying the blues about being crashed out of the race on purpose by Gordon. You would think that this sort of thing never, ever, happened in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. As if . . .

For his part, Gordon said the little fender-bender between them that had happened several laps before he executed his “payback” was the “last straw” after what he called a season of being “run over” by Bowyer.

Now we have Hendrick Motorsport owner Rick Hendrick explaining why he hasn’t been shedding any tears over his driver’s crashing of Bowyer.

It turns out that at Martinsville earlier this year, Hendrick – for sentimental reasons – really wanted someone on his team to score the company’s 200th win in Cup competition. And guess who got in the way? Correct. Clint Bowyer, who’d crashed out both Gordon and Jimmie Johnson near the end of that race that one or the other of the Hendrick cars had dominated all day.

So, as is usual in pretty much any situation, be it politics or car racing, there is way more there than meets the eye. Who is right and who is wrong is immaterial because nobody is innocent.

Speaking of way more there than meets the eye, I was talking to a guy the other day about the dismissal of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. Any number of fans and high-profile racing writers are still bleating about the injustice of it all but the guy I was talking to, who is a world famous racing driver, told me this:

“Bernard was a babe in the woods. He had no idea how to handle the owners, who are pirhanas. If you get them upset, they’ll eat you alive.

“Last spring, General Motors filed a protest because Bernard let Honda make changes to their turbocharger after the season started. Chevy argued you can’t change the rules after the game starts. Chevy lost the protest. GM was beyond angry, and some of the most powerful owners in IndyCar were seething.

“It was all downhill for Bernard after that.

“It came to a head a month or so ago when the IndyCar board was told to either get rid of him or a major supporter would pull out. Whether that was a sponsor or a manufacturer, I’m not saying. But the board had to do it, or else.”

To sum up: both Clint Bowyer and Randy Bernard had it coming. They, and their supporters, won’t agree but that’s beside the point. Newton’s third law of motion is in play here: for every action, there is an equal re-action.

If Clint Bowyer doesn’t take out Gordon and Johnson at Martinsville last spring, and Bernard tells Honda to hold off making changes to the turbo till 2013, maybe none of this happens.

Maybe . . .

  • Stories behind top motorsport stories
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