Time for the ‘Jerk of the Week’ awards
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist
If NASCAR drivers had theme songs, Robby Gordon’s would be “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” after his run-in with the sanctioning body in Montreal last weekend.
Robby, who should know better, claimed he thought he could ignore the black flag because there were only two laps left when the track went green for the last restart.
“NASCAR gives you three laps to answer the black flag, and since there were only two laps left I thought I could run to the checker and appeal the black flag after the race,” said Robby in an interview on Sirius NASCAR radio on Wednesday. Robby, Robby, Robby . . . you’ve been in racing long enough to know better than that.
The only thing that saved Robby from winning the racing “Jerk of the Week” award was his magnanimous gesture of offering Marcus Ambrose a Nextel Cup car out of his stable for the Watkins Glen race. This was considered to be both an apology for taking Ambrose out of an almost sure win, and a compliment to Ambrose’s driving ability. Unfortunately, when rain washed out qualifying for today’s race, it also washed out Ambrose’s hopes of running his first Cup race.
Another candidate for “Jerk of the Week” in the auto racing category was Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso, who held teammate Lewis Hamilton up in the pits long enough for Hamilton to miss his last hot qualifying lap and putting Alonso on the pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Race officials felt that Alonso’s action, and Team McLaren’s subsequent cover-up warranted penalties.
Alonso was moved back five positions for the start (giving Hamilton the pole), and the team was not allowed to score any constructor’s points no matter where they finished in the race. There were also reports of a shouting match between Hamilton and team owner Ron Dennis, featuring language that would garner them both huge fines from NASCAR if they had been on camera at the time.
Speaking of which, the third nominee for “Jerk of the Week” was Tony Stewart, who blamed ESPN for all his recent troubles, and stated that he wouldn’t do any more interviews for the network. Tony has tried this before, until NASCAR pointed out that post-race interviews for the top three finishers in a race are part of the entry requirements.
Tony first got into trouble for violating the Role Model Rule, stating that he was going to down a case of Schlitz after his Chicagoland win. Then he used the bull-(bleep) word in his post-race winners interview at Indy, resulting in a fine and docking of points. Combining the two offenses, I guess you could say that Tony is full of bull-Schlitz.
As mentioned above, today’s Cup race will start with points leader Jeff Gordon on the pole and the rest of the field set by a combination of points, past champion provisionals, race wins, and qualifying attempts. What I would like to know is that since Goodyear has made a rain tire for NASCAR road races, why didn’t they go ahead and qualify on them?
Moving over to the open-wheel world, Dario Franchitti has his own candidate for “Jerk of the Week,” fellow Indy Series driver Dan Wheldon. While Franchitti loves flying his helicopter, he blames Wheldon for the unscheduled flight he took in his race car at Michigan last weekend.
After watching the replay that showed Wheldon’s right front tire hitting Franchitti’s left rear and causing Franchitti to launch 30 feet into the air at 215 miles per hour, Dario said he sent an angry text message to Wheldon. Wheldon said he was offended by the message, and refused to speak to Franchitti after the drivers’ meeting at Kentucky on Friday. My, how Indy Car racing has changed. Can you imagine A.J. Foyt settling a racing dispute with a text message? I think not!
And on the Champ Car side of things, Sebastien Bourdais will make his final attempt to win at Road America today, because next season he will be driving in F1 for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Somehow I don’t think he is going to repeat his record of three championships (going on four) in a row in F1.