|Bowyer dismounts and prepares to charge|
The fun began when Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon banged wheels in the final laps of the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon spun after what appeared to be incidental contact between the two, then re-fired his damaged Chevrolet and circled the track slowly, waiting on Bowyer. Moments later, they met again in PIR’s tricky fourth turn, with Gordon turning Bowyer and innocent bystander Joey Logano head-on into the wall at race speed. Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola was also swept-up in the wreck, which eliminated Bowyer from championship contention.
Almost instantly, Bowyer’s irate crew stampeded through the NASCAR garage in pursuit of Gordon, intent on administering their own unique brand of “frontier justice.” The collision between them and a like-sized phalanx of protective Gordon crewmen was like the battle scene from Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart,” minus the blue face paint. Bodies hit the ground, punches were thrown and at least one Gordon crewmember shed blood before NASCAR officials and local police separated the combatants.
NASCAR red-flagging the race for approximately 15 minutes so officials and law enforcement personnel could permanently quell the melee. Then, just when it appeared order had been restored, Bowyer climbed from his battered mount and embarked on a Lolo Jones-worthy sprint of his own through the Sprint Cup garage. He was ultimately prevented from storming Gordon’s AARP transporter, but his double-time charge should inspire a new TV commercial for his sponsor.
“5Hour Energy, when I’ve got an ass to kick!”
Sunday’s riot proved once and for all that NASCAR is not yet fully inhabited by vanilla-bland, PR-muzzled clones. Bowyer and Gordon exchanged unpleasantries through the media after the race, questioning each other’s professionalism, if not their parentage.
Unwilling to be left out of the fun, Logano, Denny Hamlin, Michael Waltrip and others contributed fiery commentary via Twitter. New championship leader Brad Keselowski used his post-race media conference to unleashed an expletive-filled attack on the drivers who criticized him for racing too hard and "having a death wish” the previous week in Texas, only to go gunning for blood a few days later.
If testosterone was a drug, PIR Sunday was Haight-Ashbury. Four burly sheriff's deputies were stationed outside the NASCAR hauler when Gordon, Bowyer and their respective crew chiefs were summoned for a mandatory post-race confab, just making sure that no one rang the bell to ignite Round Two.
In the end, only two things were learned for sure Sunday.
First, it’s never good to get landed on by a jack man.
And second, if Jeff Gordon wins a fifth Sprint Cup Series championship, it will almost certainly be after Clint Bowyer retires.
Photo: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images