On lap 305 of the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon made contact. That contact cut Gordon’s tire down and shortly thereafter, he spun and hit the wall, effectively ending his day.
On lap 312, as Bowyer went to pass Gordon on the inside, Gordon retaliated, turning Bowyer. Gordon and Bowyer collected Joey Logano, who was outside of Gordon, and all three cars hit the wall. All three cars suffered heavy damage. Aric Almirola spun behind them and slid into Joey Logano’s already-damaged race car.
After Gordon got out of his car in the garage area, some of the crew from the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota team came over to voice their displeasure with his antics. A melee ensued between the crews with people being shoved to the ground. Bowyer hopped out of his car and ran back to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports hauler to confront Gordon.
NASCAR officials prevented Bowyer from entering the No. 24 hauler.
After the melee, the two drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler. They also addressed the situation.
Things have gotten escalated over the year and I have just had it. Clint (Bowyer) has run into me numerous times, wrecked me and he got into me on the back straightaway, pretty much ruined our day. I have had it, was fed up with it and got him back.
I mean the racing — it’s just a shame. The last person in the world you want to get into anything with is Jeff Gordon on the race track. I mean, you’re down there racing, the track’s extremely slick, we’re all on tires — I didn’t even need to pass him. That’s the thing. All I was doing is riding around biding my time. The only thing I had to do is keep the 5 car (Kasey Kahne) within reach, so for him to act like that — I mean, I barely touched him and then I feel him get into turn three and try to turn me and he missed and then next thing I know Brett’s (Griffin, spotter) telling me on the radio that he’s trying to — he’s waiting on me. It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion — and what I consider one of the best this sport’s ever seen — to act like that is just completely ridiculous.
NASCAR later penalized Gordon for violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) – altercation with another competitor on the race track during the race. He has been fined $100,000, docked 25 championship driver points and put on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Rick Hendrick, owner of the No. 24 car, has also been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 car, was found to be in violation of Section 9-4A (at all events, crew chief assumes responsibility of his driver, car owner and team members) and has been placed on NASCAR probation until the end of the calendar year.
Bowyer’s crew chief Brian Pattie violated Sections 12-1 and 9-4A and has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement:
I’ve always respected Jeff for standing his ground. 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. I accept NASCAR’s decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead.
Michael Waltrip Racing also issued a statement:
The goal of Michael Waltrip Racing is to be a championship-level organization both on and off the track. The on-track incident which occurred during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway was extremely disappointing and brought raw emotions of a long and hard championship battle to the surface. Though we generally cannot control certain actions on the track, the unfortunate reactions off the track Sunday did not live up to the professional standards in which Michael Waltrip Racing expects all of its representatives to live by. We commit to our sponsors, our manufacturer, our fans and NASCAR that we will do so in the future.
See the incident here: