Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Dust-up Proves NASCAR Still Has Fire

Bowyer dismounts and prepares to charge
Seven days ago, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith chastised NASCAR drivers for being too friendly with each other.  Early Sunday evening, NASCAR’s finest threw down in the biggest bare-knuckled donnybrook since Cale Yarborough punched Bobby Allison in the fist with his face at the 1979 Daytona 500.

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



  1. Anonymous11:18 PM

    If it wasn't for brad, Clint, Juan, and Kurt this would be just another curling match. I'm glad some guys still remember its about winnig not going for a drive.

  2. Excellent as usual Dave...ESPECIALLY enjoyed that last observation :-)

  3. Apparently, Gordon has been harboring ill will since Boyer dive-bombed the GWC restart at Martinsville back in April. Paybacks are a, well, you know where I'm going with this.

  4. Anonymous8:35 AM

    thanks for sharing..

  5. Charlie9:08 AM

    Love the last line.So true.

  6. barry9:31 AM

    I agree to the fifth championship, If I were Clint, Gordon would be lucky to ever get by me unscathed...

  7. Anonymous9:52 AM

    That race should be known as “The Race That Had It ALL”.

    You had a start with a close Chase going into it. You had cautions. You had a track that tested the tires that Goodyear manufactures and the heat from over braking that caused them to fail. You had a 5 time champion hit the wall and go from looking like he was going to win number 6 to the Chase is now up in the air for the Championship. You had hard racing between Kyle and anyone that wanted to take the lead from him. You had crashes. You had a 4 time Champion being black flagged. You had that same Champion then take out another driver. You had a HUGE fight. You had the race red flagged while they sorted everything out and cleaned up the track. Just when you thought it was done you had a huge crash in front of the start finish line as the race ended. You will NEVER see a race like that one again. It had it all and then some!

    OK, maybe the race should be nick named “The Race That Had It ALL and Then Some"


  8. Dave, I laughed so hard I cried after reading this. I may have even peed a little! Haaa Haaa!


  9. Robert G.12:44 PM

    So I heard that Gordon was black flagged in the race. But he didn't pit. Not real clear on the TV when he was shown the flag.
    Anyone know what the rule is concerning black flag (ie how long do you have to respond to it) and if he violated the rule?

  10. Robert G. - They get 3 (+/-) laps under black flag before they get the black flag with a white stripe that means they are no longer being scored.

  11. Unfortunately it also appears to prove that the sport can't offer something to engage fans other than fights. The racing at Phoenix certainly did nothing to engage anyone. Mentioning the 1979 Daytona fight brings to mind Billy France's reaction - "We don't need wrecks and fistfights to sell tickets."