Ocean Of Emotion

By now, you've all seen the tape of Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch getting into it at Martinsville, and given the sharp divide among NASCAR fans when it comes to favorite drivers, the reaction is likely split right down the middle as to whose fault it was.

Watching from 50 yards away, it was not immediately evident who chopped or punted whom. Watching it on TV, it became clear that it was a racin' deal, not a punt.

OK, OK, let's keep it down. Busch fans are convinced that Gordon sent their man to the fence, and Gordon fans are convinced that Busch chopped him and got what he deserved. I'm convinced that Gordon said it best: "It was just two guys wanting the same territory," or words to that effect.

Busch had spent most of the day wandering around the middle of the field, staying out of the way and getting his car ready for the end. Gordon, in the meantime, had been battling from three laps down, and had made two of them up on the track and one on the Lucky Dog. Since he had worked so hard to get there, it's my guess he figured he might as well go ahead and win the thing while he was at it.

Busch had the same idea, and both of them looked at the other as just another obstacle on the way to Victory Lane. They hit Turn 3, Gordon went low and left his nose in there in an effort to get Busch to stay high and let him drag-race down the front stretch to Turn 1.

Busch wasn't having any of it and slammed the door, only to find Gordon's foot wedged firmly in the jamb. Off he went to the fence, and Gordon went past, ultimately winding up in Victory Lane.

All right, emotions aside and using what we know to be true, who was at fault?

Nobody.

It's the nature of the beast that is short-track racing. Ask 43 drivers to race full-size stock cars around a track that has very little room for error and it's just the way things are. As Ryan Newman likes to say, it is what it is.

Sixteen times the caution flag waved on Sunday, and the few times it waved for accidents that had nothing to do with Goodyear tires that popped like balloons at the county fair, it was the same old short-track situation. "He checked up, I got into him and I'm awful sorry," or "I thought I had him cleared," or "I sure didn't mean to hit ol' what's-his-name."

Sure, Busch was ticked, and he took it out on Gordon the next time he saw him on the track, holding him up as long as possible and giving him a pretty sharp nudge on the way past. But that's the way you keep score at Martinsville or Bristol.

The way I see it, it's still a scoreless tie. Gordon didn't do anything wrong, and neither did Busch, before or after he got sent. It's just the way it goes on a short track.

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