The Sound of Silence and the Fury

Drawing the line between fact and opinion.

The Montreal Controversy or How Robby Gordon Saved the Day By Wrecking It

Posted by Justin Johnson on Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Facts:
Today was the inaugural race for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. It was scheduled to be a 75 lap race but went several laps into what FOX has termed “overdrive” after a late race crash which brought out a full course caution on lap 71. Because it was so late in the race, NASCAR froze the field at the caution, ceased scoring until the track was clear, and opted for a green-white-checkered finish.

The controversy centers around the actions of #55-Robby Gordon, #59-Marcos Ambrose, and NASCAR between the time the yellow was thrown and the end of the race.

During and seconds after the crash, Gordon and Ambrose battled for the lead. Gordon’s car spun and Ambrose (among others) drove past him. Footage shows that as Gordon was spinning, a NASCAR corner worker official was waving the caution flag. Gordon, once regaining control of his car and catching up to front of the field, bumped into Ambrose’s rear and began driving alongside. Eventually, Gordon fell behind Ambrose. NASCAR however, disagreed that Gordon should be 2nd and ordered him to 13th position.

Gordon, however, prior to the restart with 2 laps to go, failed to move to the assigned position and was black flagged as the race went green. Rounding a turn, he bumped Ambrose, who was scored as the race leader, again, this time spinning him out.

Gordon finished the race physically in front of #21-Kevin Harvick, who NASCAR unofficially scores as the race winner. However, because he failed to moved to 13th and ignored a black flag, Robby Gordon finished unofficially scored 2 laps down (completing 73 of 75 laps) and in 18th position. Marcos Ambrose finished on the lead lap, scored in 7th.

After the race was over, he did the traditional winner’s donuts/burnout and in the post-race interview with ESPN, Robby boldly claimed he won the race and that he would appeal.

Opinions:
Robby Gordon made a fool of himself. But, in doing so, he brought excitement to an otherwise dreary race. There were five full course cautions during the race, totalling 14 scored laps [Jayski’s Busch Series Silly Season Site]. The fastest lap time during qualifying was 102.086 seconds (#22-Patrick Carpenter) at an average of 95.53 MPH. Caution laps go a little shy of a third of that, at pit road speed which was 30 MPH. So, we’re saying ~306 seconds for a full caution lap? And there were 14 caution laps that were scored. That’s a lot of time watching cars go real slowly. On top of that, most cautions were for a non-crash, such as a blown engine or oil on the track. At least Robby made the last caution and restart fun.

However, he still made a fool of himself. He refused to obey a black flag. He refused to move to his proper position on a restart. He intentionally, and with malice, spun Ambrose. He got what he deserved. But that’s not to say he was alone in the blame.

NASCAR insisted Robby was supposed to be in 13th. He was no further back than 2nd when the caution was thrown, obviously because he was spun by car he had just taken 1st place from on the restart. So, if the field is frozen when the caution is thrown, how does 1st/2nd make 13th?

One argument I’ve read on Wikipedia, with no citation, says that Robby failed to maintain the minimum speed required to hold his position. He was spun and then he made an extra effort to catch up to the field, albeit with devious intent. He tried, and effort counts.

Final Words:
Robby Gordon deserves whatever penalties NASCAR gives. He had no right to go on a personal vendetta, ignore NASCAR instructions, intentionally spin out a car, and then still try to claim he won the race. Robby may drive recklessly, but he livens up a track where ever he goes.

NASCAR needs to check its scoring loops, Robby was not 13th. Nowhere near it. The field had already been frozen. The fallout from this will be worse than Daytona.

Marcos Ambrose got caught in a mess he truly did very little to nothing to cause and deserves better than 7th.

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