JG Online


'Drive On'
Spring 2006

There are a litany of unwritten rules in NASCAR dealing with driver etiquette. Among them is not criticizing your peers without provocation. While members of the media and race fans have questioned Jeff Gordon's focus over the past few years, he's been free from judgment within the garage area. Recent comments by former drivers turned broadcasters Rusty Wallace and Darrell Watrip intensified the critique of Gordon's focus on racing. Their words obviously struck a nerve with the four-time champion who offered a pointed response to the criticism.

While it made for interesting copy for the NASCAR writers, Gordon doesn't need to defend his focus on racing or his lifestyle to anyone except himself. A level of respect is earned on the heels of being the face of the sport while racking up four championships and 73 wins in a span of a dozen years. The best response that Gordon can give is not with words. After all, he can't win a war of words with the media; many have tried and nobody has succeeded. The racing media is paid to make controversial comments. No driver understands this better than Jeff Gordon.

But the question remains, has Gordon's competitiveness waned in recent years? Based on statistics, the case can surely be made. Although winning races is about more than just statistics-- it's about desire and determination. The attempt to catch Tony Stewart in the closing laps at Martinsville, the post-race shove to Matt Kenseth at Bristol, and the drafting gamble on the final lap at Talladega have all proven that Gordon still has the desire to win races-- moreso than ever. As far as his focus on racing, the easiest way to silence the critics is by performance rather than words.

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