Gordon-Bowyer payback never materializes; more notebook
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- After tangling on the track and nearly scuffling in the garage last week, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer got much of the attention leading into NASCAR's season finale.
So seeing them at the front of the field in the closing laps Sunday made everyone wonder what would happen.
It turned out to be much ado about nothing.
Gordon won the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing a few car lengths ahead of Bowyer.
"After it was over, I thought, `Wow, I can't believe we just finished first and second after what happened last week,"' Gordon said.
So all that angst - as well as any potential payback - will linger into next season.
"I just really wanted to catch (Gordon)," Bowyer said. "That was the only `what if' that went through my mind at the end. Probably went through your mind, too."
What would have happened had Bowyer run Gordon down?
"I wouldn't have took us both out," Bowyer said. "It's over. We could have done `what ifs' last week. I'm done with `what ifs."'
Gordon, a four-time Cup champion, was fined $100,000 earlier this week and docked 25 points for intentionally wrecking Bowyer at Phoenix International Raceway.
Gordon also was placed on probation through Dec. 31. But he was allowed to close out the season at Homestead despite his actions, which triggered a fight in the garage area between the drivers' crews.
Bowyer lost several positions in the Phoenix race because of the accident, but still managed to finish second in the final points standings. Gordon finished 10th.
Gordon found himself alongside Bowyer several times Sunday, wondering if anything would happen.
"I could tell he was pretty anxious and running hard," Gordon said. "I had to race with him a couple of times and there were no issues."
Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth had disappointing finishes in their farewell races with their current teams.
Logano finished 14th in his finale with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is moving to Penske Racing next season.
Logano won the pole for the 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but had to switch to a backup car and start from the rear of the field after getting caught up in a wreck in practice Saturday.
Logano cracked the top 10 late, but faded in the final laps.
Kenseth had trouble closing, too.
Kenseth, who is leaving Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing next season, finished 18th after spending much of the day in the top 10. He even led two laps.
"It was really frustrating for me," Kenseth said. "I thought we had a top-five car in the beginning and we put two tires on one time and the handling totally went away from us and we were junk from there on out and the rest of the race. ... It was frustrating, a frustrating ending to a season."
Brad Keselowski, a Michigan native, had plenty of support at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Not only did Keselowski's father attend his first race of the season, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson showed up to pull for Keselowski. So did 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, who played at Michigan, and famed Detroit rocker Kid Rock.
"It would be nice to see Brad get a ring, win one," Rock said before the race. "It would be great for (Roger) Penske, all the fans in Michigan and what not."
Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin and some of his crewmembers spent time this week volunteering at a food bank in New Jersey, helping the ongoing relief efforts needed after Superstorm Sandy.
Hamlin unloaded trucks of food and other supplies donated by his sponsor, FedEx.
Hamlin and his crew also loaded Thanksgiving turkeys and delivered them to a food shelter. In total, FedEx has pledged more than $1.5 million in donations in affected areas following the storm.
"It was a great opportunity to come up and play a small role in helping the community get back on its feet," Hamlin said. "The people have really rallied together to help the ongoing relief efforts, volunteering their time even though they might not have power or hot water themselves."