By Matt Weaver (FORT WORTH, Tex.) — Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and their respective crew members scuffled on pit road following an on-track altercation in the closing stages of the AAA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
The altercation began on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish when Keselowski took Gordon and Jimmie Johnson three-wide for the lead, making contact with both Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the process. The exposure cut Gordon’s tire, sending him from the lead to becoming the final caution of the race. Johnson held off Keselowski and Kevin Harvick under the final restart to win the race while Keselowski ultimately finished third.
Gordon lost a lap on pit road and finished 29th, dropping him from the championship lead to fourth in the overall Chase standings with one event remaining before the Homestead-Miami title contenders are decided. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion took exception with how Keselowski raced him and confronted him on pit road.
Keselowski got out of his car and began exchanging words with Gordon. It was then that Harvick interjected himself into the situation, shoving Keselowski towards Gordon, igniting a brawl between the two drivers and their crew members.
Keselowski ended up with a cut on his lip and forehead while Gordon too sported a nick on his lip.
“We were sitting there on older tires,” Gordon told ESPN on TV. “I spun the tires a little but I got a pretty decent restart. We went down into (turn) one and I just wanted to get to the outside of the 48 (Johnson) and out of nowhere I just got slammed by the 2 and it cut my left-rear tire. He’s just a dipshit. The way he races, I don’t know how he ever won a championship and I’m just sick and tired of it.
“That’s why everybody is fighting and running him down. Your emotions are high. That was a huge race for us. We had the car and we had the team.”
Keselowski was also involved in a scuffle last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway (with Matt Kenseth) and is currently on probation for that incident. The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion said that he was simply racing for the win.
“It was just racing hard and (Gordon) left a hole — and everythig you watch in racing — if you leave a hole you’re supposed to go for it,” Keselowski said. “It closed up and we made contact. I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s day, I wanted to win the race and that was our opportunity.”
Due to his frequent run-ins with veteran and rival drivers, Keselowski has often found himself in the center of controversy, with fingers pointed in his direction. Sunday at Texas was no different.
“I’ve been through a lot of rivalries,” Keselowski said. “I’ve got a little blood on me right now. I’ve been roughed up and put in the grandstands and wrecked and all that stuff and I’m still here fighting. I race 100 percent and go for the win and that’s what our fans deserve.
“It’s my job to race 100 percent, and that’s what I did today. I don’t want to wreck anyone but I certainly race hard, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Gordon said there was no conversation between him and Keselowski.
“You can’t have a conversation with him,” Gordon said. “He beats his own drum and gets himself in this position himself and he’s got to pay the consequences. I’m going to race him the same way he races me. But that kind of stuff is uncalled for and I’m not going to stand for it.
“To (NASCAR), it’s just a racing incident. To me, it’s a bunch of crap. The kid is doing stuff way over his head. That stuff is uncalled for. You are racing for a win and a championship. You don’t go slamming someone and cut their left-rear tire. If that’s what it takes, no problem, I can do the same thing to him.”