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


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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