Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gordon, Newman Say Stewart Overreacted

A day after Tony Stewart chastised Goodyear for what he called its “pathetic” tires at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman say Stewart overreacted.

Gordon and Newman joined Greg Biffle in a Goodyear tire test at Darlington Raceway yesterday, and while they agreed that the Atlanta tires were a handful, they said Stewart went too far in his criticism of the tiremaker. Gordon said, "I think he went a little overboard. He kind of made it personal. I don't disagree with him as far as the comfort level in the situation we were in. But we have to look at all sides of this and try to give the folks that are doing their jobs the ability and constructive criticism to try to do it better."

While agreeing that the tires were hard to handle Sunday, Newman called the controversy, “a little blown out of proportion. There's a lot of things (Tony) said that were true…but I don't know of anybody who popped a tire, or had a tire issue to the point where we had tire problems. Is there justification in some of Tony's comments? Probably. Did Tony overreact? Probably. Obviously, he took it to another level. That's Tony.”

Goodyear is contractually obligated to continue supplying tires to every Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series team – even Stewart’s – but some observers are pointing to Toyota's exclusion from yesterday’s Darlington test as a demonstration of the unhappiness with Stewart. Toyota invited three cars to the Darlington test; Gordon’s Chevrolet, Newman’s Dodge, and Greg Biffle’s Ford. Toyota Sprint Cup program manager Andy Graves said he asked for Toyota to be included in the test, but was rebuffed. Goodyear spokesmen said that only three teams were needed for the test, stressing that the teams were selected prior to Stewart's comments, and that testing invitations are rotated between teams and manufacturers.

GEM Denies Sale Of Gordon Team: Gillett-Evernham Motorsports has denied a published report yesterday that had the son of GEM co-owner George Gillett purchasing Robby Gordon Motorsports.

In a terse statement released today, Gillett-Evernham said, "On February 1, Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Robby Gordon Motorsports announced a technical, manufacturing and marketing agreement. Nothing has changed since that announcement."

Unconfirmed reports Monday had Alex Gillett purchasing the Gordon tea, with plans to operate it separately from GEM, while continuing the technological and marketing partnership. Gordon has not commented on the report.

Ratings Up Again: Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway earned a 5.6 overnight rating and a 12 share; Fox's top Atlanta race since 2003, and a 19% increase over last year's 4.7 rating and 10 share. FOX’s rating for the race nearly matched the ratings for ABC, CBS, and NBC combined, and when national ratings are released today or tomorrow, it is likely that FOX will beat the three-network total. For the season to date, NASCAR On FOX is averaging a 5% gain over last year.

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