KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two days have come and gone, and the stock car racing world is still buzzing about “the fight.”
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon will drive in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last Sunday, he drew a storm of criticism after intentionally wrecking fellow driver Clint Bowyer. NASCAR fined Gordon $100,000 and placed him on probation for the remainder of 2012.
An old-fashioned NASCAR feud had been brewing between Gordon and Bowyer, who had been involved in several on-track dustups during recent races. The bitterness boiled over during Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, when Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer with two laps remaining in the AdvoCare 500.
Joey Logano was also caught up in the three-car melee.
The crash set off a venom-infused brawl between pit crew members from both drivers’ teams. Numerous punches were thrown during the fracas, but neither driver appeared to have been assaulted.
Local police officers were seen stepping in to break up the fight.
“I’d just had it,” Gordon said after Sunday’s crash. “Clint has run into me numerous times and wrecked me. He got into me on the back straightaway, and pretty much ruined our day.”
“I’d had it,” Gordon said. “I was just fed up with it, and I got him back.”
“It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion, and what I consider to be one of the best this sport has ever seen to act like that,” Bowyer said. “It’s completely ridiculous.”
Bowyer is a native of Emporia, Kansas – about two hours west of Kansas City.
Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement on Monday, accepting NASCAR’s punishment. Team owner Rick Hendrick continued to back Gordon, who has driven for Hendrick since breaking into the Cup Series in 1994.
“I’ve always respected Jeff for standing his ground,” said Hendrick in that statement. “We also respect that NASCAR needs to police the sport and send a message when situations like this occur. It’s been a great year, and we’re going to put our focus on finishing in a positive way this weekend.”
“I take responsibility for my actions on the racetrack,” Gordon said in a team press release. “I accept NASCAR’s decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead.”
Gordon enters Sunday’s race, the 36th and final points event of the season, sitting 11th in the Cup Series driver point standings. He fell from sixth place overall after failing to finish last weekend’s race at Phoenix.