Saturday’s post-race fracas at the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway resulted in fines of $50,000 for Brad Keselowski and $25,000 for Tony Stewart.
It also once again reignited the debate over NASCAR’s "boys, have at it" edict of a couple of years ago and what constitutes acceptable behavior and where the line of demarcation is.
The most surprising part of the post-race fireworks came after Keselowski hit the cars of Stewart and Matt Kenseth at the entrance to pit road. Kenseth, normally one of the calmest and most even-tempered drivers in the sport, set off after Keselowski and body slammed him between two race-car transporters before being pulled off by Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe.
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Naturally, there were a host of opinions about who did what to whom and whether the penalties were fair and what NASCAR should have or shouldn’t have done.
One of the most insightful and informed opinions came from Clint Bowyer, when he was testing earlier this week at Phoenix International Raceway. During a break in testing, Bowyer was asked about the incident.
According to the Arizona Republic, this was Bowyer’s response: "If Matt Kenseth comes running at you and puts you in a headlock and punches you in the nose, there’s no jury needed. There’s no judge needed. You’re guilty. Period. This (Kenseth) is the nicest guy in the garage and if you can get him to that breaking point, there’s no sense of even saying anything. Just take your beating and go home."
Bowyer certainly knows whereof he speaks.
Just two years ago at PIR, Bowyer was drilled into the wall by Jeff Gordon in retaliation for Bowyer wrecking Gordon and costing him a victory at Martinsville Speedway in the spring race there.
That kicked off a wild brawl in the garage involving the crews of the two drivers and memorable footage of Bowyer sprinting through the garage in search of the Hendrick Motorsports driver. Afterwards, Gordon was fined $100,000 and given a 25-point penalty for wrecking Bowyer deliberately, while Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie was fined $25,000 for his part in the shenanigans in the garage that occurred.
Then and now, boys will be boys. Especially with a NASCAR championship at stake.