Fight club: Tempers flare on the short track in Richmond
Short track Saturday night races often bring out some of the worst tempers in drivers, and the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway was no different.
Following a hard-fought battle in the closing laps, Brad Keselowski was unhappy with Matt Kenseth. After the field took the checkered flag and Joey Logano scored the win, Keselowski showed his displeasure by break-checking Kenseth, causing him to drive in the back of the No. 2 Ford.
"The 20 car ran me off the race track so I made sure to give him a bump and that was what Joey needed to win the race," Keselowski said. "I am happy for his team and everybody at Team Penske. I wish it could have been us but that was the way it goes."
For Kenseth, it was simply a matter of racing hard for the win.
"We were racing for the win and I thought the track was wide enough with how high people were running all the time," Kenseth said. "I had to drive in there and try to give him the slide job, absolutely. I was trying to watch both lanes and I was trying to win the race. I think that’s what all five of us were trying to do up there. It’s really disappointing we had to tear up all our cars afterwards — by wrecking my car he wrecked the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and a couple other ones. I never think that’s very cool. Obviously, I could have gave him a little more room, but he had a lane all the way to the straightaway there and just racing hard."
With Keselowski and Kenseth stopped on the track, neither Dale Earnhardt Jr. nor AJ Allmendinger had anywhere to go but into the back of Kenseth’s car.
"The 2 (Keselowski) is mad at the 20 (Kenseth) so he slammed on the brakes after the checkers, and the 47 (Allmendinger) ran into the 20, I ran into the 20, I don’t know what that’s all about," Earnhardt Jr. said. "You know, get over it. That’s all I can tell them."
Keselowski further displayed his frustration on pit road by walking over to the No. 20 car wagging his finger.
Looking back, I needed some time after the race 2 cool off. Funny how much clearer the picture can be when emotion is removed #ijustwannawin
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) April 27, 2014
While the drama between the leaders was unfolding on the track and on pit road, Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears were getting much more serious in the garage.
Ambrose appeared to dive under Mears headed into the corner late in the race, putting them three-wide.
Following the race, the two confronted each other in the garage and exchanged heated words. Those words turned into shoving, where Mears grabbed Ambrose and tried to push him away. Things quickly escalated to the point where Ambrose punched Mears in the face before crews got involved.
While neither driver was available for comment after the incident, Mears sent out a low-key tweet from his personal account.
Had a good car tonight. Proud of the @GEICORacing team. Interesting end to the night. #13
— Casey Mears (@CJMearsGang) April 27, 2014
NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development Robin Pemberton said following the race NASCAR would "take their time" reviewing the incident, but had yet to contact either Ambrose or Mears.