and Jeff Gordon has been shoved into the background.
Bowyer's ill-fated three-wide move last spring at Martinsville Speedway, which wrecked Bowyer,
Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, was the catalyst for Gordon's revenge at Phoenix in the next-to-last
race of the season.
Gordon had led 329 laps at the .526-mile short track before Bowyer's dive-bomb move on a late
restart. Though the resulting wreck may be on the back burner this week in light of more recent
rivalries, Gordon recalls that it simmered throughout the 2012 season.
After contact between the Gordon and Bowyer cars at Phoenix ruined Gordon's day, the feud
ignited, and Gordon retaliated by wrecking Bowyer in the Turn 4, ending Bowyer's run at a possible
NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
"Well, yeah, he wrecked us," Gordon said of the Martinsville restart. "So, whether it was intentional
or not, it's still something that was in the back of my mind. You could say it set the stage. But
for me, it's an accumulation of things, sort of like a three-strikes-and-you're-out deal. And we
just made contact too many times last year.
"But listen, he was racing hard. The thing that bothered me so much about it last year is that
I really don't know if we were going to win that race, because we were sitting ducks on old tires.
He had it won — really, I think, pretty easily. But to try and make that move going into Turn 1
was very impatient, and it really cost him as much as it cost me.
"All he had to do was wait until we got off of Turn 2 and he probably would have driven by all of
us down the back straightaway. So, certainly that's not forgotten. But it's nice to know that
some of that attention is off of us. We'll just go race hard like we have every other weekend."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times