All of the talk and trending news for NASCAR is centered on Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano’s altercation at Martinsville this past weekend. Unfortunately the fact that Jeff Gordon has locked himself in the final showdown at Homestead has taken somewhat of a backseat. It shouldn’t as I believe he has the best chance of taking his fifth title at Homestead.
I have to point out that the incident of Logano and Kenseth shouldn’t be minimized. The fact that Kenseth’s actions were premeditated and potentially life threatening should be enough reason for NASCAR to place an intense amount of scrutiny on the crash. However, is there really anyone, including NASCAR, that didn’t see that coming?
Will NASCAR hand down a suspension to Kenseth? Probably not as they depend, now more than ever, on the rivalries of drivers and altercations to give the fans, and yes those of us in the media, something to talk about. It is an atmosphere of NASCAR’s own creation and there’s no doubt they are reveling it.
They will have to hit Kenseth with something to avoid slipping down into WWE territory, in other words: “The Fix is In” conspiracy.
The fan base cries for better racing but in lieu of that not happening until 2016, when lower down force comes into play, they’ll opt for the sensationalism of on-track retaliation. It brings out the fans and helps to deliver eyeballs. The jury is out on whether Martinsville delivered or dropped.
No matter. Gordon is locked in and hi teammates are not. Team orders are not allowed and that means nothing. Papa Hendrick has delivered the message to the rest of his stable that they are to do everything they can to push Gordon to the Championship, and they should. How do I know this? Hendrick wants Gordon to go out on the highest note possible. He can’t be thinking any other way.
It’s metaphorically like professional cycling; the riders protect the team leader and sacrifice themselves in order to position the lead rider for the final stint. They are there to protect and serve. Hendrick, no stranger to NASCAR success, can’t think any other way.
Radio code-speak, pre-race strategies, you name it and they will think of it. Johnson, Earnhardt and Kahne surrounding Gordon to keep him out of crashes and then making their cars wide to hold off the hordes. It’s the Tour de Homestead and everyone else on the Hendrick team are expected to be Gordon’s domestique’s.
Recall the last race of the IndyCar season when all Ganassi cars were up front at Sonoma for Scott Dixon? It happens all the time despite the feigned outrage against team orders. It’s going to happen. They will serve Jeff Gordon.
Gordon has a record at Homestead that makes this possible. 1 win, 6 top fives and 5 top ten finishes and all with no real team support. He has the ability, the strategic sense and the teammates to make this a reality.
Logano and Keselowski may be factors, but the Hendrick train will seek to minimize them and any of the three other drivers that Gordon will have to face.
Will the hero go out on top. We think he will, but we’ve been wrong before.