Jeff Gordon/Clint Bowyer feud escalates into full-fledged garage brawl
The scene got ugly in a hurry Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Unabashedly and unapologetically, Jeff Gordon wrecked Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title contender Clint Bowyer on Lap 311 of the AdvoCare 500, wadding up the cars of Joey Logano and Aric Almirola in the process.
Immediately after the incident, which stopped the race for 15 minutes, crewman from Gordon’s and Bowyer’s teams brawled in the garage before officials could separate them. Bowyer ran angrily through the garage and stormed Gordon’s transporter but was restrained before he got to the door.
Both drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler, where they met with officials of the sanctioning body.
The way Gordon saw it, wrecking Bowyer was justified retaliation for a litany of sins that have occurred this season, including contact between the two cars that sent Gordon into the Turn 3 wall a few laps before he exacted his revenge.
“Things just got escalated over the year, and I’d had it,” said Gordon, whose winning chances in the April race at Martinsville evaporated when Bowyer took Gordon and Jimmie Johnson three-wide on a late restart. “Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day.
"I’ve had it -- fed up with it -- and I got him back.”
Bowyer said he wasn’t trying to hit Gordon’s Chevrolet.
“All I was doing is riding around, biding my time,” Bowyer said after the meeting with Gordon and NASCAR. “It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion -- and what I consider one of the best this sport’s ever seen -- to act like that. It’s just completely ridiculous.”
Sixth-place finisher and series leader Brad Keselowski agreed that the racing had gotten out of hand. Keselowski dodged the Gordon/Bowyer wreck and had his No. 2 Dodge battered during a last-lap crash.
Despite moving closer to his first Cup championship, Keselowski was an angry young man when he came to the media center after the race. It didn’t help that Keselowski had been criticized for hard racing against Jimmie Johnson a week earlier at Texas -- a battle that ended with both cars intact.
“It’s the double standard that I spent a whole week being bashed by half a dozen drivers about racing hard at Texas, and how I’m out of control and have a death wish,” Keselowski said. “And then I see (expletive) like that. That’s (expletive). That’s all you can call that.
“These guys just tried to kill each other. You race hard, and I get called an (expletive) for racing hard and called with a death wish, and I see (expletive) like that, and it’s just (expletive) me off.”
What action NASCAR will take with regard to the on-track and off-track incidents remains to be seen.
“It’s Sunday night,” Pemberton said. “Your best decisions are made sometime after Sunday night, maybe potentially Monday or Tuesday…
“There’s a lot of things to sift through on and off the race track. We’ll continue to talk and work things out amongst the teams. It’s a close community. We all travel together, and we work side by side for weeks and months and years at a time. We’ll continue to try to get everybody calmed down and get it back to a good working situation for everybody.”