Jack Roush hung up on twice — and Jeff Gordon was gone

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Ford lost Chase Elliott to Chevrolet after it couldn’t come to an agreement with Chase’s dad, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, to sign his son/prodigy.

MORE: Bill Elliott — Ford passed on son Chase but Hendrick and Chevy rode to the rescue

Now comes word from Tom Jensen at FoxSports.com that John Bickford, Jeff Gordon’s stepfather and business manager, did something few people have ever dared to do:

He hung up on Ford team owner Jack Roush – not once, but twice.

Roush was heavily courting Gordon to join Roush Racing, particularly since Gordon had driven a Bill Davis-owned Ford Thunderbird in his two seasons in the then-Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) in 1991 and 1992.

Gordon finished 11th in 1991 and fourth in 1992, including winning three races, plus 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, plus 11 poles in 31 starts.

As Jensen relates what Bickford told him, Roush called Bickford during 1992 and said he wanted to hire Gordon to race in the then-Winston Cup Series.

Then came an action that would forever change NASCAR history:

Bickford wanted to keep Gordon linked to crew chief Ray Evernham as part of essentially a package deal.

Roush, in turn, told Bickford, “My drivers don’t get to pick their own crew chiefs. I do that.”

The next thing Roush heard was a click, as Bickford had hung up on him. Only Jack didn’t know – and would certainly never expect – Bickford intentionally hung up on him.

Roush immediately called Bickford again, believing there was a problem with the connection on the previous call. Bickford essentially said, au contraire, Jack, because the hang-up was intentional.

Roush tried to reason with Bickford about all the cost of investment into the young Gordon’s career he’d have to make, with no guarantee of a great return on that investment.

Bickford hung up again, and so went any chance of Gordon, who eventually became a four-time Sprint Cup champion and winner of 92 races with Chevrolet, remaining with Ford.

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Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).