Working alongside colleagues Mike Joy and Darrel Waltrip, Gordon commented on an illegal body modification penalty assessed to Brad Keselowski’s team by NASCAR, after a crewmember shoulder-blocked the right-rear fender of the Miller Lite Ford in an attempt to increase aerodynamic sideforce.
“It caves in those doors and creates a flare in the fender, right in front of the right-rear tire,” said Gordon, while viewing a videotape replay of the offending pit stop. “What that does -- and they’ve found this in the wind tunnel – it creates a little more sideforce; gives them a little bit more downforce and speed to be able to lean on. You can free up the car a little more and have a little bit more to lean on to make the car go faster.”
After the race, Keselowski took issue with Gordon’s assessment, saying the criticism was “because Jeff Gordon is in the booth. They need to get some people in the booth who aren’t inbred to the sport and own teams and have internal knowledge, because that’s pretty crappy. But it is what it is. It’s not that I don’t like Jeff Gordon in the booth. It’s that you need to have people who don’t own teams or have commercial interests in the sport, because they say things that are very biased.”
He also accused FOX of singling out his team, saying, “every car I saw” had some degree of body modification performed during pit stops. He said he did not know whether the modifications made to his car were more blatant than others.
While Gordon’s description of the Miller Lite team's pit stop was 100% accurate, he did make one factual error yesterday. As FS1 rolled video of a pit stop by the No. 2 team earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Gordon stated that the team had also been penalized for an illegal body modification that day, when they had not.
|Welcome to the media, Jeff!|
The team committed an identical violation that day, but was fortunate enough not to get caught.
Let’s get real, for just a moment. It’s no coincidence that when Keselowski’s ’s jack man “tripped and fell” yesterday, he just happened to lower his shoulder and leave a substantial, man-sized dent in the side of the Miller Lite Ford; right where it was sure to help the most. The No. 2 team is not the first to be apprehended in the midst of such a nefarious exercise this season, and they won’t be the last. They do it because it works, as evidenced by the fact that nobody ever trips and caves in the NOSE of a race car, negatively impacting the aerodynamics and ruining their team’s day.
It’s no coincidence that these pit-road mistakes – every single one of them – somehow result in the race car going faster, rather than slower.
Gordon admitted misrepresenting the LVMS footage late yesterday, tweeting, " My mistake comparing @keselowski @LVMotorSpeedway incident today @poconoraceway but @NASCAR called car down pit road to fix issue not me.My mistake comparing @keselowski @LVMotorSpeedway (to the) incident today @poconoraceway but @NASCAR called car down pit road to fix issue not me.”
The critical question here is not whether Jeff Gordon is biased.
We all are.
Whether its breast vs bottle as an infant, or strained peas or carrots as toddlers; we all begin accumulating preferences and biases, virtually from our exit from the womb. Anyone claiming to be unbiased is either an idiot, a liar, or both. And Jeff Gordon is none of the above.
Instead of debating his bias, they question we should be asking is, “Was Gordon right?”
And the answer to that question is an emphatic, “Yes.”
His assessment of the No. 2 team’s early race pit stop yesterday was eloquent, factual and 100% accurate. It had nothing to do with his minority ownership of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team, and everything to do with the obvious violation of an important NASCAR rule.
If Gordon has been unfair to anyone in his on-air efforts this season, we haven’t heard about it. He has offered straightforward assessment of his former team and its competitive struggles, and no more effusive in praising his successor, Chase Elliott, than the rest of NASCAR Nation.
Gordon is paid to share his insight, experience and opinions, and in my opinion, he’s doing a bang-up job of it.
There are two possible solutions to this “problem;” if a problem truly exists.
Option One would be to replace Jeff Gordon in the FOX broadcast booth with someone less informed, less eloquent and less able to deliver his special brand of insightful, though-provoking analysis. That would be a tremendous mistake; one that our colleagues at Fox Sports are not about to make.
Option Two would be for all of us to accept that Gordon has inherent preferences and biases, just like Ned Jarrett, Benny Parsons and the Waltrip Brothers before him. Once we accept that simple reality, it should be relatively simple to move forward, appreciating Gordon for what he is; an enlightened, opinionated and valuable voice at the very center of our sport.
Personally, I vote for Option Two.