The second-to-last race of the year was held at Talladega, I mean Phoenix, last week, and a jolly sight it was.
One part NASCAR, two parts World Wrestling Federation, and three parts drama, Arizona finally emerged as a worthy home of a closing round of the title battle. As many commentators have pointed out, the overall bottom line–the championship battle between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski–was in large part overshadowed by the group smackdown between Jeff Gordon & Co. and Clint Bower & Associates.
Now, two brawls percolate as the series hits the final weekend in Homestead; one is psychological between cranial wheelman and title fighters Johnson and Keselowski, and the other brawl is quite physical, between Gordon and Bowyer and their cronies, er, crews. Will Homestead feature a title fight, you know, the type in a boxing ring? Just at 190MPH?
Luke: Something is bound to happen this weekend at Homestead. I’m not sure what, but something big is going to go down.
My personal preference would be for Keselowski to somehow run into trouble and for Johnson to win a sixth title, but that’s not exactly the question at hand. Rather, it has to do with the fact that Gordon and Bowyer are apparently still not on speaking terms, other than perhaps communicating with their bumpers on the track.
This situation is far from resolved, and remember, Joey Logano and Aric Almirola were also wrecked at Phoenix as a result of Gordon’s action, which had neither of those drivers in a particularly happy mood.
Gordon even managed to mess up an apology to Logano during the week. As Logano said, it was he that first reached out to Gordon, and it ended with Gordon hanging up on him. The plot thickens.
Odds of the gloves coming off on Sunday? Very high. And as we know from years past (remember Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya from a few years ago?) the season finale can be a perfect time for bad fruit from the entire season to ripen into a stinky mess for drivers who have allowed grudges to fester. If you’ve laid any bad eggs in the last 35 races, be prepared for angry chickens to come home to roost. Or to put it another way…nah, I think that’s enough for one column.
In sum, the likelihood of NASCAR landing first on SportsCenter for a continuation of last week’s, er, incident, receives a solid green flag. Have at it, boys!
Sam: To be sure, the forecast is looking very red, with thunderstorms brewing on and around the track over the weekend, if you get the drift.
Johnson and Keselowski are in ring number one. Unfortunately for fans seeking a weekend fight, that battle regards track speed and psychological stress; no fisticuffs are going to be had anytime soon. The other war is headed up by Gordon and Bowyer, and it will start, most likely, on track in practice before the green flag has a chance to drop on Sunday.
After Gordon finally had his fill of apparent rough driving from Bowyer throughout the 2012 season, Gordon let his wrath spill over by taking out Bowyer late in the Phoenix race. Bowyer’s crew chief subsequently swore that vengeance was team 15′s and did everything but proclaim from atop the pitbox that team 24 had it coming, and soon at that. With both drivers out of title contention and still hot under the collar, ESPN has probably already alerted their cameramen to whip all cameras over to Gordon and Bowyer if they are within 50 yards of each other on the track. Or off of it.
Will Homestead host a title fight or a boxing match? Perhaps some mixed martial arts? Heck, there might even be two rings; choose your fight! The answer receives a checkered flag, if only because some drivers are seeing red.
Final analysis: It’s a checkered flag for boxing enthusiasts hoping to see a race a Homestead-Miami. Wait, was that supposed to be the other way around?
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