One dip or two: Forget Bad Brad, Jeff Gordon has a new nickname for Keselowski

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Jeff Gordon in his 22 seasons as a Sprint Cup driver, it takes a lot for him to lose his cool.

But when the normally calm and collected Gordon calls an opposing driver a “dips***” live on national TV and doesn’t care if the censors bleeped it out or not, you know Gordon was ticked beyond compare with Brad Keselowski following Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Even in the most heated and storied battles over the years early in his Cup career with the late Dale Earnhardt, Gordon never called The Intimidator “The Dips***.”

Of course, Gordon respected Earnhardt immensely — Keselowski, not so much.

That’s why it’s no wonder that Gordon went after Keselowski on pit road after the race, with both drivers ultimately winding up with fat lips – the direct result from what Gordon perceived as a fathead move by Keselowski moments earlier on the racetrack.

As the final five laps wound down and immediately after the second-to-last restart, Gordon was attempting to overtake teammate Jimmie Johnson on the outside, an unusual move for Gordon, who many thought would likely take Johnson on the inside instead.

While the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates raced each other cleanly, all of a sudden, Keselowski appeared and tried to squeeze through a small opening between his two opponents.

Unfortunately, as quick as that hole opened for Keselowski, Gordon attempted to close it. But it was too late and contact was made, with Gordon’s car getting the brunt of it, eventually ending with a cut left tire and a spin that not only took him out of contention, for the win, it left him with a dismal 29th-place finish.

And instead of maintaining his lead in the Sprint Cup standings, Gordon is now on the bubble of possibly being eliminated from the Chase in this Sunday’s Eliminator Round-deciding race at Phoenix.

Instead of a potential win that would have earned him an automatic berth in the four driver, winner-take-all season finale race at Homestead, Gordon came away with a potential ticket to elimination from the Chase next week.

“We were sitting there on older tires, I spun the tires a bit but got a decent start,” Gordon told ESPN in the post-race interview. “I went down into (turn) one and I just wanted to get to the outside of the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), and out of nowhere, I got slammed by the 2 (Keselowski) and it cut my left rear tire.

“He’s just a dips***. I don’t know how he’s ever won a championship and I’m just sick and tired of him. That’s why everybody is fighting and running him down. Your emotions are high. That was a huge, huge race for us. We had the car, we had the position.”

Trying to turn lemons into lemonade, Gordon praised Johnson for the win, while also not missing a chance to take another swipe at Keselowski.

“I’m proud of Jimmie Johnson for winning that race and not let that you-know-what win that race,” Gordon said.

That Keselowski has potentially become the most vilified driver in NASCAR – at least in this year’s Chase for his recent battles with Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and now Jeff Gordon – and arguably more so than self-proclaimed “villain” Kyle Busch, says a lot.

But when it came to Gordon going after Keselowski, there were no words, just hostility and a determination for revenge and payback.

“There wasn’t any conversation,” Gordon said of the time he approached Keselowski until he grabbed him by his collar – and the donnybrook was on.

“(Keselowski’s) put himself in this position himself and he’s got to pay the consequences,” Gordon said.

Does that mean that with both drivers’ season on the line this coming Sunday at Phoenix, Gordon will do to Keselowski what Kevin Harvick said about Matt Kenseth after their on-track run-in at Martinsville last week?

In other words, if what Keselowski did to Gordon at Texas ultimately leads to Gordon missing arguably his best chance at his first championship in 13 years, will he also see to it that, like Harvick said of Kenseth, that if he (Gordon) can’t win the Cup crown, he’ll do everything in his power to make sure Keselowski doesn’t either?

“I’m going to race him the same way he races me, but that kind of stuff is just uncalled for and I’m not going to stand for it,” Gordon said. “To (NASCAR), I’m sure it’s just a racing incident. But to me, it’s just a bunch of crap.

“(Keselowski) is just doing stuff way over his head. That’s just uncalled for. You’re racing for a win and a championship, you don’t go slamming a man and cut their left rear tire. But if that’s what it takes, no problem, we can do the same thing right back to him.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2