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Welcome to Frontstretch’s newest column, What’s the Call? Every week, we’ll take a controversial topic in the NASCAR world and have two of your favorite writers duke it out, one-on-one, with their opinion on the issue. Then, you, the fans, have a chance to comment below and let us know your thoughts, as well as who YOU think has the better argument! Let the fun begin!
This Week’s Question: After a wreck last Sunday at Chicagoland between Mike Bliss and Jeff Gordon, the two drivers reporterdly had a post-race confrontation in which a punch was thrown. Nothing has been confirmed, but Bliss arrived to the track at New Hampshire with a black eye. The incident raises the question: should NASCAR investigate driver fights or assaults that happen outside the track and issue penalties if necessary? Or is what happens after the race none of NASCAR’s business?
Throwing Punches Throws You Open to Invesitgation
-by Tom Bowles
I’ll admit off the bat, arguing for the investigation of Jeff Gordon after last Sunday’s incident with Mike Bliss is a difficult one to pursue. That’s simply because once NASCAR drivers leave the track, they are no longer at a NASCAR-sanctioned event, and therefore beyond the sport’s jurisdiction in a sense that any incident that goes on is likely not in view of the public.
But it’s one thing to have a vocal argument in private, and quite another to throw a punch. And if Jeff Gordon did throw a punch, his status in the sport should leave him open to an investigation. Jeff Gordon, as well as Mike Bliss, are no regular citizens: they are professional athletes, role models for millions of individuals, and as such need to be held to a higher standard. Physically assaulting another competitor is simply unacceptable in this day and age of NASCAR’s modern era.
What if it was Bliss assaulting Gordon, and the punch damaged Gordon’s eye to the point he needed to miss a race because of it? Millions of Gordon fans everywhere would be up in arms, calling for Bliss to be burned at the stake. But because Bliss is one of the less popular drivers on the tour, he’s allowed to walk around with a black eye without anyone giving us even a hint of what happened in the airport last Sunday afternoon.
If a NASCAR driver does drugs outside the track, he is suspended accordingly for his misdeeds. Why wouldn’t we extend those same policies to drivers who break the law in other ways? And while a punch can just be a punch, it is a form of assault, and charges can be pressed because of one. NASCAR would be wise to at least do a little poking around to see what happened here, because the next time someone gets punched in the eye, there might be a little more damage done then simply someone’s pride.
Gordon vs Bliss is None of NASCAR’s Business
-by Amy Henderson
While NASCAR has every right to police the actions of drivers and crew members at the track, they do not and should not have the authority to investigate or take action against them for their actions off the track. That’s like your local police officer giving you a speeding ticket because he heard you were over the speed limit in Wyoming last week. It might be perfectly true that you were a bit leadfooted that day in Wyoming, just like it may be true that Jeff Gordon and Mike Bliss had fisticuffs in an airport, but it’s A) hearsay, and B) out of the local guy’s, or in this case, NASCAR’s, jurisdiction.
While Gordon and Bliss may have done something that they would regret in the morning, they should not be called into the Oval Office, chewed out, fined, docked points, or made to write 500 times, "I will not violate 12-4-A." Yes, NASCAR does have an image to think about and a gajillion sponsors to kowtow to, but there is a line here. NASCAR is not the Nice Police; they are the national sanctioning body of a sport. NASCAR does not employ drivers; they oversee races. Once the race is over, the drivers and crews are beyond the long arm of NASCAR’s law. It would be an invasion of privacy to investigate every off track incident. If that incident were to carry over onto the racetrack, endangering the safety of others, then, yes, of course, NASCAR should intervene. But in this instance, that was clearly not the case.
So while Mike Bliss may have nursed a bruise or two, and Gordon may have chinked his image a bit, the events that occurred between them should remain between them. While I wouldn’t advise their method of settling racing differences, I would also hate to see NASCAR do the wrong thing in this case. The precedent it would set is far too detrimental.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Tom Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Jeff was not meeting minimum speed and NASCAR did not black flag him.
Here’s a clue for you: if NASCAR was about races where the best drivers wins, Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart would win every week. There is not another driver on the grid who can come near to matching the talent of these two guys, so NASCAR has to keep changing rules to give drivers like Junior a chance to win. So how is it that Gordon get’s preferential treatment?
Bliss got punched by Tony Stewart last year, now Gordon this year. Maybe he’ll learn to be more careful on the track, and keep his mouth shut off the track.
I don’t have a problem with an argument getting physical in certain circumstances—sometimes a punch in the nose is just what the doctor ordered for an attitude problem (Jimmy Spencer is the best friend Kurt Busch ever had—a position that does not endear me to my fellow Kurt Busch fans). As long as its a fair fight they can be men about it and not whine.
Bottom line is, what happens between drivers off-camera, on their own time, and out of the public eye is their business and not mine. If formal assault charges are filed then and only then it becomes a public matter. Otherwise, its a private issue and can stay that way.
If ANY driver gets into an altercation off the track, he’s putting his season at risk because, well, he might get hurt and miss a race or two. For a driver without “star” quality, it might cost him his ride. That in itself is should be enough to make a driver think twice before getting involved in a fight.
That said, if a driver DOES get in a fight, believe me, the owners, sponsors, and race teams will remind a driver just what they stand to lose should it happen again. Nascar doesn’t have to deal with it, and shouldn’t deal with it. It’s a race team issue. If it becomes a full blown criminal assault, I’m sure the law would deal with it apprpriately as well.
Let boys be boys, men be men, if the men want to behave like boys, let them pay the same price the rest of us pay.
What really surprises me is that Jeff Gordon won the fight. Guess he’s not the wimp a lot of us thought he was.
IMO: What happened with Gordon and Bliss was away from the track; therefore, NASCAR should stay out of it. If they want to have a talk with the drivers that’s one thing, but no need to fine or suspend. If the two were “normal people” at the airport fighing, police would be involved if one of the parties wanted to press it. Apparently, Bliss does not, so that’s that.
TOTALLY off topic: David, I agree that NASCAR giving the fines back to the drivers is ludicrious. If you are going to do that, they need to give to the drivers who have NOT been penalized, which might give some of the under-funded teams a little more pocket change. I agree charity is a good answer, but let’s not forget that while the VJGC is a great charity, is it not the only one deserving of help!! There are so many out there, including the Kenny Irwin camp, which seems to have been forgotten. If not to charity, I think NASCAR should start thinking about putting it in a fund to help out drivers as they get older or if they suffer serious, career ending injuries. Like Nadeau, who apparently had to sell everything and move his family in with his parents after suffering his injury. There are alot of great things that NASCAR can do with those funds, outside of making the rich richer. Hmmm…I smell an article coming on….
Tony Stewart should have been thrown out of Nascar with all the things he pulled.
Gordon should have knocked Bliss’ teeth down his throat.
Bliss intentionally got into him.
It’s racing, it’s emotional, it happens. C’est la vie!!
If NASCAR doesn’t and shouldn’t get into the drivers’ business off track then why is it that NASCAR does random drug testing and suspends drivers for failing the test? When Wimmer got fined for a DWI and resisting arrest and had his state drivers license suspended why did he get to continue driving on the race track? NASCAR is inconsistent with it’s rules and fines.
I agree that if it was any other driver (T. Stewart, K. Busch, J. Spencer…pick one) it would have been all over the news and NASCAR would have something to say. But because it is the “Golden Boy” nothing is done. Pay closer attention to how Jeff’s attitude and demeaner has changed since his driving has started falling off!!
I love NASCAR racing and I am a fan of Jr., Tony, Johnson, Sadler, Kahn, Mayfield, Busch (both of them), Robbie Gordon, Jarrett, Labonte, Mears, Edwards….but Jeff Gordon can kiss my patootie!! He’s done!!
It does amaze me though the crap that the media will go with to get a few headlines and it amazes me even farther what the jealous anit-Gordon fans can think of to say. But then you have to figure most aren’t old enough to know who Fireball Roberts is so you have to realize it’s their age that leads them to such asinine comments…and the fact that they are Jr fans.
Nascar should not get involved if it doesn’t happen inside a Nascar funtion.
But then again theres no consistancy in NASCAR’s ruling so. And considering Jeff is apparently gods gift to racing, NASCAR won’t dare touch him.
Anyway…the Gordon-Bliss encounter did not make it to the headlines and it’s not a made up encounter. There are plenty of people who witnessed it. I just think Gordon took a cheap shot. It was “just racing”!
Anyway all kidding aside, I think NASCAR should at least address the situation. Unlike the Spencer-Busch incident, this was just a racing deal after all. Mike got into the corner too hot and unfortunetly got into Jeffs path. Petty’s done it, Sr’s done it, Jeffs done it…..name any driver who hasn’t.
Had this happened in the day of REAL races , Jr.’s Daddy would have just run over Bliss to the cheering of the fans, ... and fights were not that uncommon.
Sure, the best race would be one with Jr., Jeff and Tony racing each other, but can we realize that if the only driver out there was our favourite running around the track by themselves, there would be a very boring race day? We can love one driver without being a potty trash mouth to another one, we need them all to have a great race and a wonderful sport.
these guys are real people too, and they can make mistakes, too, let’s not be the catalist that hurt someone’s carreer..
Five time champ.
to do.you go jeff,
and I think people are brain dead if they can’t see that!!!
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Lets just for one mintute forget the names of who were involved and look at the incident. Theres no super star, there is no tail rider. Just two drivers of even rank, punching one another.
Now look at the overall precedent NASCAR has set up for governing the sport. Judging by what NASCAR has done in the past, its only right it police the situation. Now, it doesn’t have to have sevre consequences for either party involved. It still should require some investigation considering what NASCAR has done in the past. Just to show that NASCAR is trying to be consistant (which we all know is BS anyway but…)
secondly its pretty sad that Bliss apparently deserves it becuase hes ranks below Jeff. I don’t like Bliss as much as the next guy but….come on people. What do you say about Jeff clearly running over Mike Wallace at Pocono? Mike deserved it because he was in Jeff’s way? Either way Mike has no right to swing at JG if the case may be. And using Jr as a scape goat won’t be neccessary considering I’m all Mopar support.
All of it is manipulation of you the fans and of the drivers!!!
Depersation at work. That’s what all of this is and it stinks!!!
I must agree to some extent with the person who compared the way this sport is going to wrestling. It is time that those fans who are an embarassment to most fans,I refer to the can throwing, sreaming, foul mouthed, rude, ignorant people who ruin it for the rest,were treated as the criminal element they are!
Perhaps it is time for a â€˜no canâ€™ rule. It is hard to hurt a driver or another fan with a paper cupâ€¦.....it is hard to make a weapon of one too, a thing necessary to think of in our world today.
I am also concerned that this impound rule makes it more dangerous for drivers who might have problems that could be fixed, and thus avoid an accident in the early stages of the race.
It is also surprising that one of the best racing stables cannot put together a car that one of the best drivers cannot drive to victory laneâ€¦.for both Jr. and Jeffâ€¦.....