Tuesday, June 07, 2016

COMMENTARY: Jeff Gordon Is Biased... And So Are You

Former Sprint Cup Series champion-turned-television analyst Jeff Gordon got his first taste of media backlash today, in the aftermath of comments he made early in Sunday’s Axalta We Paint Winners 400 at Pocono Raceway. 

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. 

He is. 

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.

47 comments:

  1. I second that .... I believe Jeff is doing a great job and he was spot on

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  2. Leave Jeff in the booth. If Brad doesn't like what he says then make sure his team doesn't do anything that would make Jeff suspicious and voice what he saw. Brad has too much to say.

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  3. Dead on Dave!! Wasn't a on-track Gordon fan but have accepted him the the booth and he's has done a great job. I vote Option Two.

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  4. Larry Monaco3:12 PM

    I think Jeff has been doing a great job and he don't have to answer to anyone but Fox

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  5. Well, that's typical Keselowski. Engages his mouth before his brain is in gear.

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  6. You absolutely nailed that one. Jeff has done a very good job in transitioning from driving to commentating and has been a very good addition to the FOX coverage. It would be a horrible idea to take him from the booth and replace him with a less knowledgable person.

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  7. I don't have a problem with the knowledge Jeff brings to to broadcast! What I don't like is turning the broadcast into the Chase Elliott show!

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  8. Jeff goofed on saying the #2 team got caught in Vegas for the clumsy Jackman when they didn't. Bad Jeff. But when told he was wrong at least he admitted his mistake. Unlike the Biased and obviously opinionated driver of the Miller Lite Dodge.

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  9. Jeff made a mistake & he acknowledged it! He's human. He's doing a great job in the booth & has added a fresh perspective to the Fox racing broadcast booth. I enjoy many of the drivers gracing the broadcast booth during the Xfinity races. It spices it up a bit and makes it more interesting for me.

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  10. I must have been strolling through your brain at some point. I was thinking pretty much the same thing. Just not said eloquently.

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  11. Havent the two greatest calls in NASCAR come from people with bias? Ned calling Dale to victory at Michigan and DW calling Mikey to victory at Daytona were what many consider to be the two greatest laps ever called by any person inside of a broadcast booth... if Ned and DW can have bias and be praised for it... can't Jeffy as well?

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  12. Jeff Gordon has done a good job, and this coming from someone who's never been much of a fan of his driving days dating to the Hendrick/Chevrolet poach-job that even RACER Magazine acknowledged at the time was akin to the more dubious business practices of F1 than to American racing.

    The real question we should ask about this brouhaha is whether the rule itself about "body modification" via NFL-style tackling is truly wise - is such "modification" so much an aerodynamic edge as to warrant punishment?

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  13. Hasn't Brad done some booth work? Doesn't he also own, or had, a team?

    And his right to cast a stone is?

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    1. Anonymous2:51 AM

      He owns a team in the Trucks, and feel free to listen to the audio, he ain't no Gordon.

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  14. you are rigth on the money dave

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  15. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Jeff is good in his job,, could really do with out that blow hard Jaws/DW..

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  16. Jeff has been a great addition to the Fox broadcast team. Can't see how he is biased. It his job to report what he sees and hears. Tnx Dave great to hear your opinion about the accusations.

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  17. Anonymous9:02 PM

    Jeff doesn't much like Brad. Brad feels the same way about Jeff.

    In other news the Earth is round, water is wet and fire is hot.

    The end.

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  18. Jeff brings his vast knowledge to the booth as he should and Brad should stop being such a baby.

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  19. There was an issue with the #2 car, JG described it and talked about it. That is what he is paid to do. What is supposed to do, let the other two talk about it and just hush up?

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  20. Jeff called a spade a spade. Keselowski's gonna fault him? For that?

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  21. Doesn't Butt Hurt Brad call some Xfinity races while his car is on the track? Well we can't have that. IF Brad really feels this way about Gordon, then he has no business being in the broadcast booth while a BKR car is on track.

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  22. Anonymous4:53 AM

    Well for the sake of biased and professional in the booth I pose a very simple question which I am sure will not be posted. WOULD Jeff the owner listed as the 48 car, call out and discuss the way he did the 2 car? Fair question and that seems to be the crux of what most don't understand. Fair question, will Dave post it?

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  23. Personally I think Jeff has been excellent in the booth and has actually been especially careful to be fair in his coverage. Certainly Jeff has shown less favoritism than Rusty during his time in the booth or either of the Waltrips (DW has gotten much better over the years about that part IMO). It is what it is. We need the expertise of former competitors in the booth. Brad was just upset his team got caught.

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  24. Anonymous6:10 AM

    Dave, seeing you are bias up to your hairy eyebrows, did it ever occur to you of the the days of old (yes those dreaded days the likes of you and others tell of never to speak of..Watching the tapes of the late races, the person in the booth wasn't the main attraction (ala DW or the beloved by some but not all Jeff). They offered for the most part not their opinions but the move by move of what car 43 was doing and what the 2 was doing etc. And then a lot of silence. Jeff is a shill for HMS, yet Jeff is using his connections via a team owner etc to influence what is said in the booth, to think otherwise is foolish. Call the race, Jeff is full of it. I doubt if his team car was found doing something funny he would have made an issue out of it. Come on, how can you not agree with that? Jeff is up to his eyeballs with HMS, he is there to promote the Golden Child Chase...and it goes on and on. They are not calling the race, the are promoters for NASCARS favorites as the script is written, I know this won't get posted. Only ones praising you are. But damn, man your business like Jeff is paid to promote, not a pair between you to call out the hard stuff.

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  25. I'm guessing Brad would have blown a gasket towards Ned Jarret in 1993 had he been the one running second to DJ in the 500. Hehe...

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  26. Anonymous7:43 AM

    Brad was wrong to complain about Jeff in this case, but having all of these people with active connections to race teams is a conflict of interest, and the practice should be stopped. At one time, Fox had FOUR on-air personalities that had financial involvement in active race teams. They would even put Michael Waltrip on air IN his race uniform! If I were a competing team owner/sponsor/manufacturer, I would scream bloody murder about that. ESPN have Brad D. on the air when he was a team co-owner was just as wrong. I have been a Jeff Gordon fan since the day he signed with HMS, but get OFF MY TV.

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  27. Brad just trying to change the issue from people looking at his cheating team. Because as we all know...Penske NEVER (bends the rules) cheats...just ask anyone on the team. I'm not sure Brad even believes what he said...pretty sure he was just trying to defend his team and deflect...but he turned a minor penalty into a week long discussion (that few if any are siding with him on). No clue how the crew member who crushed in the side of the car isn't suspended though

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  28. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Well said, Dave. Jeff is doing a great job in the booth and he wasn't wrong about the "modification" that the 2 team did. Brad's just mad they got caught by NASCAR but let's face it, the cameras are everywhere.

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  29. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Spot on, Dave. One of the most moving moments in NASCAR history is hearing Ned Jarrett call his son Dale home to victory in the 1993 Daytona 500.

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  30. What's that old song from the TV show Baretta, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time!" Spot on Dave.

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  31. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Totally agree with you Dave! And very well written piece!

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  32. John Snyder12:27 PM

    Dave, you are absolutely correct on this one. Jeff is the best thing to happen in the announcer's booth since Benny and Ned. Who, besides Brad himself, decided Brad was a paragon of virtue?

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  33. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Jeff is fine but Darrel Waltrip is as unabashedly biased, not to mention annoying, as they come. If Nascar wants to fully shed the hillbilly/redneck reputation, ditching the Waltrips would be a good start.

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  34. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Brad, in 20 years you get to criticize jeff. Until then, just do your job.

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  35. Gordon is doing fine. Brad does say some things that maybe he wished he would have said a bit differently. I guess we all do for that matter.

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  36. I have no problem with BK, but he's way out of line on this one. I also don't buy that every team had body modifications. That's total BS and a cop out. The 2 team was the first to flare the right side skirt behind the exhaust at Chicago in 2014. Got them a win and when it was pointed out, he acted similarly. After that, the insane pulling out of fenders began. I don't see the 4 or the 18 car with big ass dents in the side. His team got caught and that's it. Trying to deflect by questioning Jeff Gordon is pretty weak.

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  37. Dwayne in Memphis3:31 PM

    Got caught so we point to the distraction over there. And it worked...it's Wednesday, and who's talking about the shoulder slam? Nobody other than using it in context to point fingers at Jeff Gordon's bias. It's just like you said, Dave, it's fully possible that Jeff CAN be biased, and Brad's CAN be caught slamming into the side of his car at the same time. These aren't mutually exclusive circumstances.

    Well played, Brad. Sleight of hand at its finest. Brad Keselowski sitting on a hill with the Man in Black using his circle reasoning about which glass of wine he'll choose when in the end, he just points away and, "what in the world can that be?!"

    You got caught, Brad - but you didn't even try to deny that...just accused Jeff of bias. And the better part of the week has been spent on what? Not your breaking the rules and getting caught. Nope, been talking about Jeff Gordon's "bias." Brad is even getting complimented about his willingness to speak his mind.

    He's not speaking his mind...he's distracting your focus while he slips your watch off your wrist.

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  38. Peter Lee4:28 PM

    Let's not overlook the fact that Darrel Waltrip has his name on Hendrick dealerships in Tennessee. Along with Gordon That makes two out of three in the broadcast booth supported financially by Hendrick. There is something wrong with this picture.

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  39. Viewership will rise by 2 when Fox removes Boogity Boogity DW

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  40. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Quit cheating and people won't say bad things about you. Check with Ken Starr, Baylor U.

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  41. Anonymous9:55 PM

    from Dave in Ohio:
    One. Having NOT been a Gordon fan during his racing career, I will say that I AM a fan of Gordon in the booth. He is well informed, well spoken, and enjoyable to watch. Props to Fox for bringing him on.

    Two. The opposite could be said for either of the Waltrip brothers. There was never a more shameless shill born than Mikey for the brand and sponsors of his cup team while in the booth. It was (is) embarrassing to watch. Gordon is breath of fresh air by comparison.

    Three. Tying in to the rest of the story, there was one (yes, one) time that the elder Waltrip had an amusing comment that has stuck with me over the years. I can't remember the race or the driver, but it was a superspeedway race and the driver in question had the front end basically ripped off the car, a new one built out of sheet metal bits and duct tape. The rest of the broadcast crew was amazed that the car in question was running up front and contending for the lead. Waltrip's comment was (to paraphrase): they've already been through tech, and sometimes you can "fix" them way better than they started out. So yes, ugly modifications can certainly make the car go faster.

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  42. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Brad would be better served to watch how much he adores Penske while he - an active driver with even more recent racing activity than JG - climbs up in the booth to call the Xfinity races

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    1. Anonymous3:07 AM

      Flat out lie, I have all the information, and you are inaccurate...bias. Just what the conversation is!

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  43. Anonymous2:55 AM

    Simple people, Brad was not wrong. His "penalty" is not the issue, sorry it just isn't. There is bias in the booth like never before, and if a competitor or a fan feel there is, perception or fact. THEN THERE IS!!!!! The booth should not have that hanging over their head, don't you get it? Jeff reported, but would Jeff have harped or said it when it was the 48? You bet your life NO!. Bias, Bias, Bias. Get it?

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  44. Anonymous12:10 PM

    I do believe having someone that stands to gain financially from the success of a single team presents a potential issue as it relates to current/potential sponsors. As a sponsor wouldn't you rather sign on with a team who's co-owner will be in the TV booth and can ensure your car is highlighted in the race? Would the number 5 car get as much coverage if Jeff wasn't in the booth?

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  45. Right on Dave. Worse than what Jeff Gordon is being accused of is the announcer who has some connection to a car but totally ignores that car even when something good is happening. Michael Waltrip did that all the time when he owned the team. But, if there wasn't complaining, these pages would be blank.

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