Craig Murto: Gordon goes out a winner

CRAIG MURTO

By the time the grueling 500-lap Sprint Cup race at Martinsville was finishing, the sun was setting and it was difficult for anybody at the track to see.

But there was enough light for Jeff Gordon to find his way to Victory Lane for the 93rd win of his career and his ninth at Martinsville in his final attempt before his retirement at the end of the season.

“I mean, look, Martinsville, you can’t ever count us out at Martinsville,” Gordon said while celebrating the win. “It wasn’t given to us, I can tell you that. But we certainly had some help. That would not be the first time I’ve had help winning a race at Martinsville. That’s kind of how races go sometimes.”

And to make it even better for Gordon, he will be one of the four drivers competing for the championship at the final race at Homestead.

“There’s nothing cooler than winning the first race in this round, to know you’re going to Homestead so you can think about it, plan for it, you can adjust your schedule accordingly,” he said. “I’m going to be 100 percent focused. Yeah, I got a lot of people coming there, but it’s all about the pre-planning. I’m 100 percent focused to go there and do what I got to do with this race team. I can’t wait to get to work on that.”

Gordon mentioned he had help, and that help came from Matt Kenseth. In a disgusting unsportsmanlike display, Kenseth – laps down at the time – intentionally wrecked race leader Joey Logano – in Turn 1 with fewer than 50 laps to go.

Logano did not expect the contact from Kenseth.

“I was just doing my thing,” he said. “Obviously, he was beating my back bumper off early in the race, but it’s whatever at this point. We’re gonna move on and we’re gonna keep looking out the windshield.

“There’s a championship to win. We’re gonna win that.”

Kenseth initially refused to man up to his actions and told a national TV audience his car just wouldn’t turn. Later he admitted his stupidity.

“Well, like I said some days you get put in spots you don’t want to be in for sure,” Kenseth said.
“I’d much rather be out there racing for a win than to be in that spot. I had two chances to win, I think, in the last three weeks and I got wrecked out of both of them going for the lead. One from him (Joey Logano) and one from Brad (Keselowski), so that’s disappointing.

“We should have never been in that spot trying to limp that car around and get the finish.”

Kenseth was referring to the race at Kansas, where he got turned while battling for the top spot by Logano. But Kenseth blocked Logano for more than a lap prior, putting Logano in the wall. I guarantee you that if he had blocked Tony Stewart like that, Stewart would have not only spun him out, but Stewart would have put Kenseth in the wall.

Kenseth isn’t racing for the title because he messed up and finished 42nd at Charlotte, blocked at Kansas, and Harvick ended his chances by taking out half the field at Talladega.

I understand that fans don’t necessarily like Logano, mostly because his father lurks around like a racing dad protecting a 12-year-old. Go home, Tom; your kid can take care of himself. You’re an embarrassment.

NASCAR should have sat these drivers down after Kansas and ensured the situation didn’t exscalate.

And Logano should have handled Kansas better himself; a conversation between the two could have deflated the situation. But after years of being dumped by Hamlin, Harvick, etc., he finally dished it back out. Kenseth blocked at Kansas – any driver would have dumped him for it. It was hard racing.

Dale Earnhardt never dumped the leader when he was laps down. Matt Kenseth is no Dale Earnhardt. He’s a sore loser who can dish out blocking but can’t take what it gets him. Guess what, Matt – Earnhardt would have put you in the fence at Kansas for blocking him. Think about that while you’re serving your two-race suspension.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.

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