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.”

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”