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Old 11-08-2007, 10:15 AM   #17
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Default Re: the "Jeff Gordon has never won this race 500"

Eh, what the Hell. Here's what Ricky Craven had to say about "that fag, the second most overrated piece of crap".

The best ever?

By Ricky Craven, Yahoo! Sports
October 10, 2007

I have always been passionate about sports. As a New England boy growing up in Newburgh, Maine, I looked forward each day to the sports pages of the Bangor Daily News. I needed only to look to Page One to get the previous day’s results on the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics or New England Patriots.

I grew up in the Larry Bird era. He was, arguably, one of the best basketball players to ever tie up a pair of Converse sneakers. Bird was an exceptional shooter and has the career points to confirm it. But he was more than just a three-point shooter or a clutch free-throw shooter when his team needed it most.

Bird could pass the ball and play defense better than most would give him credit. I remember the debates back in the 1980s of who was better: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Dr. J. There was no clear winner – each was talented and successful in their own unique way.

I was in my first automobile race in the spring of 1982, at a track in Unity, Maine. Since my debut behind the wheel, I have raced across the country, throughout Canada and as far away as Japan. A common question I am asked is, "Who is the best you have ever competed against?"

It's a common question from enthusiasts of all sports, but not an easy one to answer.

I raced one time against Richard Petty. He would be a logical and popular choice. His 200 career wins are the sport's best and will not be exceeded.

Dale Earnhardt was the absolute best at winning races and not caring how he looked doing it. Although he never appeared to be a great qualifier, there is no equal when it came to closing the deal on race day or coming out on top of a door-to-door battle.

Earnhardt defined the attitude that you have to hate losing more than you love winning. He won the majority of his races because his talent and desire were unmatched, and he won a few because his front bumper was within striking distance of the leader. Regardless of how he did it, he was a winner, his presence was unique and anyone who had the fortune of competing with him felt it.

He also would be a logical choice.

Part of my criteria for being the best to ever wheel a race car would be fundamentals, like car control. Harry Gant and I battled for a Busch Series win at New Hampshire International Speedway in October of 1991. I went to victory lane that day and carried with me an appreciation of being able to race side by side, as hard as possible, with a true professional. Gant allowed me to race to his outside while squeezing every ounce of speed from his car to my inside.

He left me barely enough room to exit the corners without hitting the wall – or about a fraction of an inch between our cars. He was one of only a few drivers who could demonstrate that ability, at any track, lap after lap.

Matt Kenseth is today’s version of Gant. Matt makes very few mistakes from the driver’s seat and has the gift of going very fast without looking fast.

Kenseth always appears in control and has a Nextel Cup championship as a result of his terrific driving ability.

Both Kenseth and Gant are very good and would certainly get nominations for the best driver.

I can go back to my early days and mention drivers like Robbie Crouch, Mike Rowe and Dave Dion. All are very good and I learned a tremendous amount from them. Without being exposed to them, I would not have won my first Nextel Cup race, at least not at Martinsville. All three are experts at short-track racing, which brings me to my next point.

To be the very best that I have ever seen you would have to be a balanced driver. With the ability to win at all disciplines of racing: short tracks, intermediate and super speedways. The two road course events on the Nextel Cup schedule help narrow the field. Some drivers like road racing, some hate it. Only a few have consistently succeeded on the road course.

And finally, the driver would have to have won a championship to confirm being consistently good and ultimately the best. The driver I consider the best I have ever competed against has won a championship, in fact he has the distinction of being a multi-year champion with the added significance of doing it with two different crew chiefs.

He is among the top ten in all time Nextel Cup wins and is the only current driver with a reasonable chance of being as high as second on the list, before hanging up his helmet.

Like Bird, this driver has more than phenomenal statistics to separate him from the rest. He has the ability to get the most from an average race car and his worst days equal some driver's best.

Like other exceptional athletes, he combines above-average talent with a commitment and work ethic to be the best. He understands his car better than most drivers, but more important, understands and communicates precisely what he needs to make his car go fast.

When the car won’t perform to its potential, he has the depth and experience to make adjustments inside the car using his hands and feet to manipulate speed.

Jeff Gordon has consistently performed at a higher level than all others I have competed against. His four championships are the most among active drivers. Like most champions, he uses all resources to find ways to win. His quest for a fifth title was enhanced by his last-lap pass to win Talladega last week.

Regardless of whether you’re a Gordon fan or not, you have to respect the numbers he has achieved and the way he finds ways to win.

If this year’s championship comes down to the final lap of the final race, I would expect Gordon to find a way to come out on top.
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