MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Few NASCAR stars have more experience with getting booed for doing well than Jeff Gordon.
And when the fan derision stems from preventing a Dale Earnhardt Jr. appearance in victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway, it’s particularly relatable.
So when told Joey Logano had joked about receiving hate mail after barely beating Earnhardt under caution Sunday at Talladega, the four-time Sprint Cup champion could relate.
“That’s what happens when you ‘wrong’ (Dale Earnhardt) Junior (laughter) especially at Talladega,” Gordon said with a laugh Friday after Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville Speedway. “I’m very familiar with that. I wasn’t even a part of it, and I think I got some hate mail.”
In the May 2004 race at Talladega, Gordon was awarded the victory when the yellow flag flew just a few seconds before Earnhardt made a pass for the lead with four laps remaining. The rest of the race was run under caution, freezing the field and eventually providing the impetus for the green-white-checkered rule to ensure green-flag finishes.
Gordon celebrated with frontstretch burnouts that resulted in his No. 24 Chevrolet being pelted by beer cans and debris – just as Logano’s was Sunday.
The reception is relatively new for Logano, who has three straight victories and 11 of 14 career wins since last season when he first emerged as a legitimate title contender. Gordon has been hearing the boos since his first championship in 1995 (when he regularly began to outduel Earnhardt’s late seven-time champion father).
The Hendrick Motorsports driver said the negative feedback doesn’t affect a driver’s psyche.
“Not if things are going well for you,” Gordon said. “I think if things aren’t going well, then you did something that caused that reaction from the fans, then that will eat at you a little bit. But if you’re like Joey, he’s doing everything right. I don’t think there is one single thing he can sit there and say, ‘Yeah, I wish I hadn’t of done that; that was a bad idea as far as Talladega is concerned.’ ”