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Did the punishment fit the crime?

Sometimes “boys have at it” just goes a little too far. Incidents near the end of Sunday’s Advocare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway were a perfect example of that. Heck, thinngs even went so far that a wreck and brawl at the track were among the topics of conversation the following morning on ABC’s Good Morning America. They also got a menion, complete with video highlights, that evening on ABC’s World News.

In case you’ve been totally out of the loop the last couple of day’s here’s a brief rundown of wht happened:

Jeff Gordon, frustrated with the way Clint Bowyer had been racing him for quite some time, had enough and intentionally wrecked Bowyer with two laps to go on Sunday. The move of retaliation irked not only Bowyer, but also his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing crew. A brawl ensued in the garage. Afterward, drivers, car owners and crew chiefs were called to the NASCAR hauler while uniformed police officers waited outside to escort Gordon to his motorhome.

When the smoke cleared on Monday, Gordon was slapped with a $100,000 fine and the loss of 25 points. Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, was fined $25,000.

Was the penalty just? Too harsh? Too lenient? I guess that depends on whether or not you’re a Gordon fan or a Bowyer fan, hate Gordon or hate Bowyer. I guess the most level-headed opinions are the ones from fans who couldn’t care less about either driver, either way.

When NASCAR took it’s “boys have at it” stance a couple of years or so ago, there was no defined line the sanctioning body gave as a line not to be crossed. When asked, the replay was something to the effect of, “We’ll know the line when it is crossed.”

Well, I guess Gordon crossed it.

I have to admit, though, while I’m not surprised by the resulting penalties, I also wouldn’t have been surprised if they had included a suspension. Remember the Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway last year in which Kyle Busch intentionally wrecked that series’ championionship contender Ron Hornaday? Wasn’t Sunday’s incident at PIR kind of the same thing, minus the brawl?

Busch wasn’t suspended the following race weekend, but he was supended the remainder of the same weekend in which his incident occurred. That meant he was kept out of the seat of both his Nationwide and Sprint Cup series cars for the remainder of the Texas weekend.

Granted, Bowyer wasn’t a frontrunner for this year’s Sprint Cup, but he did have a legitimate shot at the title. So wasn’t this a case of Gordon intentionally taking out a championship contender? There were no races left in the weekend from which to suspend Gordon, so wouldn’t a suspension the following weekend makes sense?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Gordon should be suspended or that Busch should’ve been suspended last year. Maybe the decision in each circumstance had something to do with said driver’s history. If not, maybe there needs to be a little more consistency. Just my two cents.

— Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

— Follow Auto Racing on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook. Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook.

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Posted by on November 13, 2012. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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