HOMESTEAD, Fla. Rick Hendrick offered a powerful defense of driver Jeff Gordon and his run-in last weekend with Clint Bowyer which resulted in a harsh NASCAR penalty this week.
At Martinsville this year, we were going for our 200th (Sprint Cup) win. We had a photo session before the race and we all wanted to win more than anything, more than any championship, the 200th win coming at Martinsville meant so much to us because we lost so much there, Hendrick said.
That was taken away from us. Both of our cars were wrecked on the last wreck or next-to-last lap and it was by (Clint Bowyer). You didnt see our guys go down there and fight in the pits. We didnt do any of that.
I didnt hurt as bad in my life as I did leaving the race track that day. It took a week or so to get over it just because we had it in our grasp.
Late in the race at Phoenix last weekend Bowyer made contact with Gordon. Gordon retaliated less than two laps later which erupted into a wreck that included four cars.
NASCAR fined Gordon $100,000 for the incident and stripped him of 25 driver points and placed him on probation through the end of the year.
Last week, the thing I regret the most is I allowed my anger and emotions to put me in the position to make a bad choice, Gordon said. I felt like Clint needed to be dealt with but that was not the right way or the right time.
In October 2004, a plane owned by Hendrick Motorsports crashed in thick fog en route to a NASCAR race at Martinsville and killed all 10 people aboard, including Hendricks son, brother and two nieces.