It was only a year ago when on a Sunday afternoon in "Thunder Valley" we saw Elliot Sadler get his first career victory at the Food City 500. But the victory was completely overshadowed when on the last turn of the last lap Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart were running for the position of fourth and fifth. Gordon felt that the extra 7 points would secure more of a chance at a championship while Stewart was just trying to pick up a few positions in the standings during a dismal season start. Gordon spun Stewart around, picking up the fourth place spot while Stewart ended in 25th because he had to wait for all the other cars to pass him by to avoid even more damage to the Home Depot Pontiac.
Well, after the race, in typical Tony Stewart fashion, he sped around the track on the cool down lap, found the #24 Dupont car, and spun it around in the pit area. Subsequently, Stewart received a $10,000 fine and was put on probation until August 31st of 2001.
Well, as the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". As most NASCAR enthusiasts look forward to the two weekends at Bristol because the short track racing brings out the driver and the...temper in everyone, this weekend in the mountains of Tennessee was no different. You would have thought the World Wrestling Federation had come to town instead of the two NASCAR traveling series!
It all started on Saturday afternoon during the Busch Series' Channel Lock 250. During a wreck filled race that saw the caution flag come out 14 times for 88 laps, patience started to shorten in the drivers when Greg Biffle in the #60 Grainger Ford seemed to have hit the left bumper of the #29 GM Goodwrench/ET Chevy of Kevin Harvick a little too hard and sent him almost head on into the wall taking him out of the race. Harvick, who was pulling a double this weekend to promote the re-release of the classic movie E T The Extra Terrestrial immediately went over to Biffle's crew chief, Randy Goss and I can guarantee you that they were not talking about what time they were going out to dinner after the race! Matter of fact when Harvick got done with him, he told Fox Sports' Steve Byrnes that he was going to be waiting for Biffle after the race. I was seeing a good ol' fashion slobber-knocker main event unfold for the next WWF Pay Per View. As soon as the race was over, Harvick flew right over the top of Biffle's hood and they began a yelling confrontation that was separated by the two teams and NASCAR officials. Later on they were invited to the Big Blue Trailer where I gather there will be some fines levied later on in the week.
Just as Jeff Green, the winner of the race said, "when you get those two hard heads together, something is bound to happen", and basically it did. They have had a long standing battle since last year in the Busch series that saw them hook up at least 3 times over the season for one reason or another.
I take it that off the track, they don't go widdle wood on the porch. What do you all think?
The next match was more of a mismatch so to speak. On the last lap of the race, the front runners Jeff Green in the #21 Rockwell Automation Chevy was battling with the #1 Yellow Ford of Jimmy Spencer when caution came out and they had to race to the checkers. Spencer got caught up behind lapped traffic so he improvised and went around the bottom of the track by pit road to pass the lapped cars. When he could not get around the lap traffic car of the #24 Net Zero driven by Jack Sprague, he tapped him on his rear bumper and spun him around the finish line and into the wall. Once Sprague came to his senses, he bolted over to where Spencer had parked his car. Only thing was that a NASCAR official was in between them but looking at the size of both of the men, it might have been the best thing for Sprague. The tale of this tape would have favored Spencer who is a 220-pound good ol' boy that likes to mix it up, against Sprague, a 170 pound spit fire.
It would have been a short battle.
On top of all that, due to Spencer's selfishness, not only did he not finish second but ended up fourth in the final standings of the race.
Sunday's running of the Food City 500 was a little quieter. Yes, there were a lot of cautions. (13 to be exact, but you have to expect that in a 500-lap race) Lot's of banged up cars but only really one skirmish. Kurt Busch picked up his first win of his career running the last 157 laps on old tires to take the checkered flag, similar to how Elliot Sadler won this race last year. Just as last year, you saw tempers heating up as Robby Gordon in the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy turned around the #8 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the pit area, just as it happened last year with Gordon and Stewart. Jr. started the whole thing though by retaliating for Gordon not letting him by to make a chase at the leader and bumped him on the cool down lap on the track. Other than that, it was a good race with lots of beating and banging.
It is my opinion that what happened this weekend is something that most fans want to see. It adds excitement into what sometimes can be a boring sport. But one of these days it will be at the price of someone getting injured for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As professional as all these drivers are, they must stop thinking about themselves so much and start thinking about how their actions will affect others. I say that along with a Victory Lane at each track, there should be a wrestling ring with a WWF official so that these drivers would just use their own bodies to hurt each other instead of 3600 pounds of a car.
Next week the NASCAR Winston Cup Series takes a week off in observance of Easter. I would like to extend my sincerest wishes to everyone to have a very blessed Easter weekend.
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