Gordon Reacts To Texas Caution Controversy
Posted April 1, 2003
FORT WORTH, Texas — Here is what Jeff Gordon had to say about NASCAR's decision to let Matt Kenseth remain the leader after Gordon passed Kenseth under caution during Sunday's Winston Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
"For NASCAR to, you know, put those guys back on the lead lap, or whatever lap it was that we were on, that just blows me away, and I don't understand it. Somebody is going to have to explain it to me from here on out."
Kenseth was the leader midway through Sunday's race when caution came out. As he approached the start/finish line, he slowed to let teammates Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton and Roush Racing-affiliated driver Ricky Rudd pass him to get their laps back.
Gordon, in second at the time, did not want to let the three drivers have their laps back. So he sped up and passed Kenseth to retake the lead before they crossed the line.
NASCAR does not have a rule that prohibits drivers from racing back to the line under caution, yet officials in the scoring tower said Gordon could not pass Kenseth.
So Kenseth remained the leader. Gordon stayed in second, and Busch and Rudd got their laps back for passing Kenseth.
"I think it's his choice whether he wants to let them have a lap back or not," Gordon said of Kenseth. "If he doesn't, then the next guy in line can choose. I did. I was the leader when I crossed the line.
"I didn't think there was any reason to let those guys have the lap back. We are racing those guys not only for a win, but for a championship, and I just didn't think there was any reason for me to let them have a lap back. If he (Kenseth) wanted to choose it, fine.
"There is a gentleman's agreement to pass for position," Gordon said. "But we are talking about keeping cars down a lap, and I don't know of any gentleman's agreement that says that I have to let cars have their lap back, even if I'm not the leader.
"I think to the whole 'giving-a-lap-back' thing is crazy, anyway. But because we have teammates, we do kind of stretch that a little bit, but I think that if he chooses to let -- to try to let those guys have a lap back, then the gentleman's agreement is out the door, out the window, if there's guys back there that we are battling for a win and a championship with.
"I wasn't trying to pass Matt," Gordon said. "That's why I gave him his position back. As soon as we crossed the line, I said: 'Matt, go ahead and have your position back.' But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not get letting those guys have a lap back, and basically NASCAR came in and said they changed it."