NASCAR: Racing Heats Up In Arizona Desert
Harsher words have seldom been spoken after a Sprint Cup race.
Almost no one was happy, not even winning car owner Richard Childress and Chase leader Brad Keselowski, following Kevin Harvick’s victory in the Advocare 500.
Chief among the gripes: Jeff Gordon’s retaliatory act of intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer near the end, and the crash at the very end after NASCAR officials failed to detect a stream of oil left by Danica Patrick’s Chevy that resulted in a huge crash at the same time Harvick was taking the checkered flag.
“That wreck happened on the front stretch because there was oil all over it,” runner-up Denny Hamlin said. “Ray Charles could see that.”
“I’m really disappointed in the way the race was called,” added Childress.
Keselowski spoke of “a double standard,” dating back to his runner-up finish a week earlier in Texas.
“I spent a whole week being bashed by half a dozen drivers about racing hard and how I’m out of control and have ‘a death wish,’ and then I see (stuff) like that,” he said. “These drivers just tried to kill each other.
“It’s just ridiculous, and they should be ashamed.”
Owner Michael Waltrip — yes, his team fields Bowyer’s Toyota — called Gordon’s action “a cowardly, chicken move.”
The pit crews of Gordon and Bowyer engaged in a full-fledged brawl in the garage around Gordon’s wrecked Chevy.
Meanwhile, Keselowski escaped with a 20-point edge in points over Jimmie Johnson entering the season’s final race. He began the Phoenix International Raceway event trailing Johnson by seven. Even if Johnson wins the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Keselowski can win the Sprint Cup championship by finishing 15th.
Tire failure caused Johnson to crash and limp to a 32nd-place finish.
“It’s way, way out of our control after the problem we had,” Johnson said.
Monte Dutton covers motorsports for The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette. E-mail Monte at email@example.com.
(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.