Man, the Texas race had it all; a fight between two of NASCAR’s most non-violent men, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton (actually it was more Gordon fighting than Burton), Kyle Busch expressing his displeasure with NASCAR by using his middle finger for an extended period of time (while on TV), and the replacement of the entire #48 crew with the #24 crew mid-race.
The water coolers today must have been loaded with conversation today let me tell you.
So what does this all mean?
Nothing really, except to show you all how intense these guys are and the pressure they have to perform for their teams, sponsors, car owners, and for themselves (not necessarily in that order though).
Aside from the fight I think Sunday’s race was a prime example of teamwork, or lack thereof.
In Kyle Busch’s case his little finger penalty of two laps for unsportsmanlike conduct cost his team a chance to win the race. This was a classic case of a driver letting his team down.
In Jimmie Johnson’s case his team’s consistently inadequate pit performances put him a hole every time he had a pit stop (in the midst of a close Championship point battle no less) and led to their being replaced by fellow Hendrick crew members from the #24 team. This was a classic case of a team letting their driver down.
Regardless of which situation you look at the end result is the same – you will lose if the team and driver don’t work together.
More after the jump including a picture of the #48 car being serviced by the #24 crew and a youtube video of Kyle Busch’s middle finger salute to a NASCAR official.
FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 07: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
In Kyle’s case, and I’m not making any excuses here, he is such a fierce competitor he let’s his emotions get in his way. It’s good to have a driver that gets fired up but let’s be realistic here if he always lets that emotion get the better of him will people want to work with him? Nope.
Kyle is a team owner now, I wonder how he would deal with one of his drivers if they were to do that and cost him a chance at the Ownership Championship in the Truck Series which he is currently in the running for. Perhaps he needs to think about that for a while before he does something like that again.
In Jimmie’s case, I’m left wondering what they are going to do next. Let’s face it, it was Chad’s call but Jimmie has to have Chad’s back so now you’ve got the driver and the Crew Chief vs. the crew. I do a lot of coaching and I’ve been in situations where I’ve replaced players who got me to the Championships because of a lack of performance, and I’ve also stuck by players who messed up but still got me to the Championships, but I have never replaced a whole team.
I’m not Chad so I don’t know his reasoning but I think it might be something like this; “OK the front tire changer and carrier are struggling, do I replace them with the front tire guys from the #24 or do I replace them all because it will throw the team’s timeing off if I just replace two guys, or it might throw off those two guys being replacements without their team and they won’t perform as well. Hmmm … what to do, what to do?”
Again, I don’t know the whole situation and what was going on in Chad’s mind but I think I would have just replaced the two front tire guys who were struggling and not the rest of the team. Why? Because it shows the rest of the team that they are doing a good job and that they need to step up, or else. It also centres those two out in front of the team and shows them that they have a job to do and if they can’t do it they will be replaced. This way you only have two disgruntled team members and not eight or ten.
Who knows what is going to happen for next week, but unless they have a very positive team meeting and everything is aired out with no hard feelings left at the table my guess is they won’t be back – they’ll be with the #24 car and the #24 guys will be with the #48 team (looks like I was right).
What would I do with Kyle Busch? If I were the team owner this is what I’d do – a restorative justice circle.
I hear you laughing, really I do, but honestly what else is there left? Nothing else seems to be working so why not try it?
As far as the Gordon vs Burton fight on the back stretch goes I’d promote the hell out of it. Maybe even arrange a special MMA cage match between the two. Hey Dana White, you reading this? Perhaps I should call up my friends from the Bloody Elbow and see if they can get the Jeffs some MMA air time.