My Brain on NASCAR: Are Gordon and Tiger spinning their wheels?

col-cathyelliott (2)During the week of June 18, 2007, I publicly cracked what has gone down in local lore as one of the worst jokes ever spoken aloud on the radio. It went something like this:

Within the past couple of days, Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon both became first-time fathers. Tiger’s new daughter is named Sam, and Gordon’s little girl is named Ella. So I guess you could say the professional sports world has been hit with a case of Sam-n-Ella.

Sam-n-Ella. Get it? (If not, don’t fret; you are not alone.)

I remembered that unfortunate pun while watching The Masters last weekend, first of all because it reminded me there’s a reason why I’m not a comedy writer; second because Woods’ and Gordon’s daughters were born only two days apart; and third, because I believe it was the first time in nearly eight years I had thought about the similarities between Gordon and Woods.

Gordon finished seventh at Texas Motor Speedway, and Woods survived a final-round injury scare to finish The Masters tied for 17th; no trophies or green jackets for either of them, but pretty respectable nonetheless.

This is what’s bothering me: At what point does “respectability” cease to be enough of a reason to continue grinding it out every weekend? When you’ve been at the very pinnacle of your sport, is simply being competitive enough incentive to keep going? It depends on who you ask.

Tiger Woods joined the PGA tour in 1996 (nearly 20 years ago), won his first major tournament in 1997; he has won a total of 14 majors so far, and has racked up a whopping 79 PGA career victories, placing him second on the all-time win list behind – wait for it – Sam Snead. Not too shabby.

He has been plagued by back trouble in recent years, which naturally has affected his performance on the course, but, if you believe what you’re told (by him), Tiger is pretty tough. After injuring his wrist on the ninth hole of The Masters, he administered a little impromptu field surgery.

“A bone kinda popped out and a joint kind of went out of place, but I put it back in,” he told CBS broadcasters after the match. Whether you’re a Woods fan or not, that’s wicked cool.

Jeff Gordon’s first season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was 1992. He won his first race in 1994, the first of his four championships in 1995, and to date has 92 winner’s trophies on what must be one of the longest, sturdiest mantles in all of sports.

Like Woods, Gordon has suffered with back problems – spasms, to be specific – but in a recent interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, he dismissed them; well, somewhat.

“It’s not worth talking about,” he said. “It’s not something I’m just going to fix. It’s not something I can do and all of a sudden my back will be healed. It’s an ongoing process for me to maintain it.”

I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that if something in Gordon’s back “popped out” during a race, he would not be able to right that ship. But I am completely certain that if it was possible, he would give it a try.

On the all-time win list, Gordon ranks third, behind – again, wait for it – Richard Petty and David Pearson. There’s some rarified air for you.

Woods is 39 years old and will celebrate birthday number 40 in December. My personal opinion is that he will hang up the full-time spikes before many more years pass; when you’ve been on the top of your world, there is nowhere to go but down.

Gordon is 43 and has announced that 2015 will mark his final year of full-time competition in the NASCAR Sprint Series. There is nothing more embarrassing, for both fans and athletes, than trying to hang on too long. I applaud him for knowing when to say when. But what happens next?

Well, just to keep things current, 21-year-old Jordan Speith won his first Masters tournament on April 12. And if you can remember back as far as February, when the smoke had cleared after the 2015 Daytona 500, 24-year-old Joey Logano was the guy celebrating in Victory Lane. These two young’uns are tearin’ it up in their respective games right now, and we will have the opportunity to enjoy watching them for years to come.

Tiger Woods might keep plugging along for a few more seasons, but for me, 2015 is the year of Jeff Gordon. He has consistently been one of NASCAR’s most popular, successful and classy competitors, a real racing rock star and a living legend, and it makes me very proud that he has chosen step down while he is still on top.

What a way to go.

Cathy Elliott is the former director of public relations for Darlington Raceway and author of the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR and Darlington Raceway: Too Tough To Tame. Contact her at cathyelliott@hotmail.com.

 

Comments

comments

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day Coastal Carolina played 22 innings on Saturday (completing game 1 [more]

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toes

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toesThe Class 4A North-South All-Star Boys Tennis showcase managed to [more]

NMB's Smith picked to kick at Ray Guy prospect camp

NMB's Smith picked to kick at Ray Guy prospect campNorth Myrtle Beach High's Zane Smith received the Ray Guy [more]

Rain plagues CCU's series with Appalachian State

Rain plagues CCU's series with Appalachian StateGame one of the weekend series between #16 Coastal Carolina [more]

Girls Soccer: McCoy, Hall top all-region for Panthers

Girls Soccer: McCoy, Hall top all-region for PanthersThe Carolina Forest girls soccer team cleaned up on the [more]

Strong finish lands Chants in top 10 but no NCAA bid

Strong finish lands Chants in top 10 but no NCAA bidThe Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot a final-round, 7-under [more]

Boys Golf: Seahawks earn repeat as state runner-up

Boys Golf: Seahawks earn repeat as state runner-upThe Myrtle Beach High School varsity boys golf team finished [more]

Lone Panther Fortenberry ties for third in Class 5A

Lone Panther Fortenberry ties for third in Class 5A Carolina Forest's Chris Fortenberry finished tied for third individually at [more]

Coastal ace Bilous claims Sun Belt Pitcher of Week

Coastal ace Bilous claims Sun Belt Pitcher of WeekCoastal Carolina junior Jason Bilous was voted the Sun Belt [more]

MB's Cahill, Wallen make deep runs at state singles

MB's Cahill, Wallen make deep runs at state singlesThe Myrtle Beach High boys tennis team sent a pair [more]

Chants climb leaderboard in second round of NCAA

Chants climb leaderboard in second round of NCAAThe Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot an even-par round [more]

Soccer: SJ's Williams joins MB trio on all-state squad

Soccer: SJ's Williams joins MB trio on all-state squadThree Myrtle Beach High soccer players and one St. James [more]

SJ's Bray, MB's Edwards at top of All-Region 7-4A list

SJ's Bray, MB's Edwards at top of All-Region 7-4A listFollowing a near-miss bid to the Class 4A state championship [more]

Locals top all-region team; MB's Bodge earns all-state

Locals top all-region team; MB's Bodge earns all-stateGrand Strand area teams dominated the All-Region 7-4A team, and [more]

MB's Grigg, NMB duo put teams in hunt for 4A title

MB's Grigg, NMB duo put teams in hunt for 4A titleDefending state runner-up Myrtle Beach is in a familiar position, [more]

Confidence Cougars beat Manzer Academy for title

Confidence Cougars beat Manzer Academy for titleThe Confidence Cougars, an AAU team made up of players [more]

CCU struggles on first day of NCAAs but still in hunt

CCU struggles on first day of NCAAs but still in huntThe Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot a 2-over par, [more]

Chants sweep Trojans, nab top seed, Sun Belt East title

Chants sweep Trojans, nab top seed, Sun Belt East titleFor the second time this weekend, Coastal Carolina shutout Little [more]

Former Chant Henderson 'truly blessed' after crash

Former Chant Henderson 'truly blessed' after crashFormer Coastal Carolina All-American and Denver Broncos running back De'Angelo [more]

Track & Field: Strand trio strikes silver at state meet

Track & Field: Strand trio strikes silver at state meetNo gold medals made their way from Saturday's SCHSL Class [more]

CA loses double-overtime heartbreaker in state final

CA loses double-overtime heartbreaker in state finalThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach girls soccer team suffered [more]

CCU celebrates Senior Day by making magic number 1

CCU celebrates Senior Day by making magic number 1On Coastal Carolina’s Senior Day, CCU senior Kevin Woodall accounted [more]

Boys Golf: Seahawks take aim at state title as a team

Boys Golf: Seahawks take aim at state title as a teamAfter Myrtle Beach High golfer Holden Grigg's record-setting 2017 Class [more]

Coastal opens final home series with shutout of ULR

Coastal opens final home series with shutout of ULRJason Bilous posted a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless [more]

MB's Gordon, Mueller net top region honors in record year

MB's Gordon, Mueller net top region honors in record yearJust as the Myrtle Beach girls soccer team swept its [more]

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day Coastal Carolina played 22 innings on Saturday (completing game 1 [more]

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toes

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toesThe Class 4A North-South All-Star Boys Tennis showcase managed to [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach