As they rounded turn four the pace car left the track. With three laps to go Kyle Busch was first, Jeff Gordon was second and Carl Edwards was third. If Jeff was going to regain the lead it had to be now. This restart was critical.
The green flag dropped Kyle jammed on the gas, The green flag dropped and Carl Edwards jammed on the gas, and the green flag dropped and Jeff Gordon did not get a good restart. As the cars cleared the start finish line on the front stretch Carl Edwards saw Jeff did not get a good restart, he saw an opportunity to gain a spot and possibly grab the lead. He began his pass and Jeff went to block him, Carls front bumper tapped Jeff's back bumper and this was enough to catapult Jeff hydroplaning across the green grass of the infield.
I saw the smoke across the field but was not sure who it was the crowd stood to their feet. With in a split second the night was about to come to a very disturbing end. I glanced at my husband and with out saying a word he mouthed, "it was Jeff"! Before I could say or do anything to prepare B the announcer said" OHHHH Carl Edwards gets a jump on Jeff Gordon and sends him flying into the infield, this could take him our of the race!" I saw it coming my smart little boy who comprehended everything that was going on on the track understood everything with out seeing anything!
From that point on the race was a series of uncontrollable recking and turmoil. When the final Checkered flag dropped cars were sliding all over the track smashing into one another. But we were unaware of what was unfolding on the track because our sweet little Jeff Gordon fan had completely lost it.
As the announcer said those few fateful words my sons face dropped, his eyes welled up with giant pools of water and this dreadful wailing began to come out of his mouth. It all happened with in 5 seconds, B was devastated. He cried for about the next hour. Each time he took a breathe he would say "Jeff's car crashed" or "I hate the driver who hit Jeff Gordon"! Even more disturbing to me was he said he never wanted to go to another race again. He hated to see Jeff lose.
As he continued with his hysterical out burst, feeling his pain I began to cry. Now my husband was left to deal with a traumatized child and a grieve stricken wife. The same people who had watched B be so excited for the thrill of victory for his Jeff Gordon, now had to suffer the pain and agony of DEFEAT. Each and everyone(whom some were glad Mr Gordon was out of the race) felt the pain of a little boys dreams dashed right before there eyes. Each and everyone of them felt a little bit of sadness for the breaking heart of a Jeff Gordon fan.
As the fireworks signified the end of the race we were still gaining some form of composure. We had to tell him Jeff did not win every race. We told him Jeff was o.k. and he would come back and race again next week. We tried to tell him Jeff was not mad(of course he was mad). As the words replayed over and over in B's mind it would bring up a new wave of distress. As the stands cleared we saw 7 or 8 adults sitting about two rows down. All were dressed in #24 regalia, with DuPont seat cushions, all in disbelieve. Yes, some with tears in their eyes, grown adults dealing with the unimaginable spectacle of what had just taken place on the race track.
For the next 24 hours B kept his point of view, he hated Carl Edwards, he hated racing, and he was still overtaken with grieve with the loss. It didn't help every news station would replay the incident. It was a constent reminder. Finally from the words of wisdom Jeff Gordon did an interview.
It was discussing of course the incident that knocked him out of the race(I think he placed 20ish)He said it is all apart of racing. He was racing hard, and sometimes when you race hard things happen, he was proud of his team, proud of the way his team set up the car and was excited to be off to the next race. OH MY GOSH, HE COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER IF I HAD WRITTEN IT FOR HIM.
That single interview helped restore my sons faith in humanity, o.k. maybe just stock car racing. Jeff had said everything we had been telling B for the past day. It showed Jeff was not mad or upset just happy to have had such a great day, great car, and a great team. Yes yet another reason I love Jeff. He is (now) a mothers dream. Being either he has mellowed in his older age, or because he is a parent now himself he has been a great role model for my B.
In the day of power rangers and Transformers (my son has neither)I like that B has a real live person, who has faults and flaws, that he can look up to and learn from. B has made a full race recovery and is back watching it on T.V occasionally with me and always wants to know the out come of the weekly race. I have not ask him if he will return to a race with me, I will probably let him decide on that.
Last week we went to Va to meet Jeff(more info on that trip later)
I was able to quickly speak with him. In my hurried excited rambling I explained how thankful I was for the interview he did after the July 5 Daytona race. At first he was a little puzzled(Gee, I can't imagine why since he probably only does 500 interviews after a race and this race was over two mths ago.) once I gave a brief summary of the interview he remembered. I thanked him because it gave my son a great lesson on sportsmanship and resilience. His response gave me even more insight to the man. With a smile he said " Well, it was not what I really wanted to say, but, " with this we both laughed.
Some might say well I guess he is not such a great sport after all but I disagree. This is fierce competitor first and foremost. He wants to win, but he also realizes the position he is in with thousands of fans many of them children. It shows me even when you may not feel happy, glad, whatever you have to look at the good points and realize who is watching you. I don't think for one minuet this is fake or trying to be someone you are not.
I felt like for one moment I met the young man who is fast becoming a legend in a very demanding sport. He has mastered the art of cool under pressure unlike so many other of his competitors(tony Stewart).
YES, I love Jeff Gordon. My son started as the all time fan but has lead me to be my own fan! GOOOOOOOOOOOO JEFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF! DRIVE FOR FIVE