March 29, 2006 | 9:56 A.M. EST
Or was that an alien with his helmet and Hans Device on with a serious axe to grind that we saw shove Matt Kenseth on pit road the other day at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Either way, it was more than a bit of a shock — and somewhat amusing — to see Gordon and his 5-foot-nothing, 100-and-nothing-pound frame get out of his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and push Matt Kenseth after Kenseth had wrecked him on the last lap of the Food City 500.
Not that his actions weren’t warranted. Kenseth was more than a bit frustrated by being held up by the almost-lapped car of Dale Jarrett, which might have kept him from winning the race.
Kenseth just happened to take it out on Gordon, who had one of the cars that happened to get by him in the last couple of laps. Kenseth could have settled for a fourth or fifth-place run, but instead, wound up third after punting Gordon, who finished 21st.
If anybody should have been punted it was Jarrett. He wasn’t going to lose any positions by letting Kenseth by him, or even Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick or Gordon, for that matter. Jarrett should have had a little more respect and let Kenseth have a chance to get to Victory Lane. Se la vie.
But, let’s get back to Gordon. Not only did he lose a chance for a top-five finish and receive a bit of damage to his race car — not to mention the embarrassment of not being able to hide his emotions right after the race — he was also hit with a $10,000 fine by NASCAR on Tuesday for the mini-altercation.
Gordon said earlier Tuesday on a weekly teleconference he expected that to happen, and NASCAR followed suit late in the afternoon.
Kenseth tried to make amends by apologizing to Gordon, but perhaps should have waited for Gordon to cool off a bit. Both admitted as much.
Gordon has gotten into verbal arguments before, most notably with Tony Stewart, but it’s difficult to remember Gordon becoming physical with anybody, at least not in recent memory.
He’s always taken the “high road,” so to speak, and walked away. You may not see that from now on.
“I heard that a lot last year that maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough on the racetrack,” Gordon said. “My tem has done an awful lot this year to make our racecars better, to put me in better positions, with a better pit crew, better communication.
“I’m giving them everything I possibly can out there on the racetrack because they deserve it. If that means I’ve got to be more aggressive, than I’m going to be more aggressive.”
So does that mean Gordon will be the second coming of “The Intimidator?” Don’t count on it.
Dale Earnhardt had the black, daunting-looking car for it, and the personality to back it up. It’s difficult to be intimidated by someone of Gordon’s stature, and by someone driving a multi-colored car with flames on it.
But, who knows? Sometimes the biggest surprises come in small packages.