Gordon-Keselowski brawl steals spotlight at TMS race
FORT WORTH, Texas — Four time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon certainly didn’t want to see caution No. 12 come out at Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
But it was caution No. 13 that really angered Gordon and the emotions that came with that one spilled over into the pits.
Gordon, who was leading the race before caution No. 12, cut a rear left tire after he was hit by Brad Keselowski on a restart and was forced to pit, which relegated Gordon to a 29th-place finish.
While the action was done in a race won by Jimmie Johnson, it was far from done at Texas Motor Speedway and a Gordon-Keselowski brawl played out in front of an estimated crowd of 138,500 and a television audience. Gordon exited his car and went to confront Keselowski. Both driver’s teams joined in and by the time the fracas cleared, both drivers were bloodied and Gordon used an expletive in reference to Keselowski on the live television broadcast.
Adding to the WWE element of the post-race fight was the fact that Kevin Harvick, who finished the race second, shoved Keselowski in the back into the fray just before punches started flying. The brawl also included crew members from Paul Menard’s and Kasey Kahne’s teams.
The race incident was a huge championship blow for Gordon, who would have clinched a Chase berth at Homestead with a win in a race he led for 59 laps. Now he’s fourth in points but just one point ahead of Matt Kenseth for the final transfer position.
"I don’t know how he’s ever won a championship," an incensed Gordon said following the race. "I’m just sick and tired of him. That’s why everybody’s fighting him and running him down. Your emotions are high. That was a huge, huge race for us. We had the car. We had the position."
Gordon, who had a bloody lip following the scuffle, said he didn’t have a conversation with Keselowski about the incident. He did get his hands on him though after Harvick pushed Keselowski in the back.
"He gets himself in this position and he has to pay the consequence," said Gordon. "I’m going to race him the same way he races me. That kind of stuff is just uncalled for and I’m not going to stand for it."
Keselowski, who finished third and is just five points behind Gordon, was unapologetic after the race.
"I’m doing everything I can to win this championship, racing at 100 percent," he said. "That’s something I’m not going to be ashamed for. If I was out there wrecking guys to do it that would be one thing, but a little bit of rubbing I think that was probably how this sport was created and probably how it should move forward. I don’t mind getting raced that way and I don’t mind racing that way."
Johnson, who has won the race each of the last three years, said he doesn’t think Keselowski has as many problems on the track as he does when he’s off it.
Harvick, who finished second, only wanted Keselowski to answer to Gordon after the race. He just tried to help him do that by telling him to go fight his own fight before giving him a nudge.
"If you’re going to race like that you’re going to have to man up a little bit at some point," Harvick said. "He’s done it several times so you can’t just turn around and let everybody fight all the time without you in there. You’re going to have to stand up for your actions at some point yourself."
The scuffled overshadowed the fact that Johnson’s win means that all four Chase championship spots are up for grabs heading into next weekend’s race at Phoenix and the eight challengers are separated by just 18 points.
That leaves nearly a week for the dust to settle from Sunday’s post-race fun and NASCAR vice president of completion Robin Pemberton said some of that time will be spent watching video and determining if penalties will follow. Pemberton said he didn’t have issues with the racing but said that punches with closed fists cross the line.
"We’re going to take our time," Pemberton said. "We’ve got a lot of film to review and things like the that. You just look at it as a whole, the people that are involved. You have to look at everything."
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