Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 was moving along at a record pace with one caution in the first 175 laps.
It could have easily been called uneventful.
It certainly didn’t end that way.
In the final laps, after a track-record 13 cautions, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski made contact on the track, which knocked Gordon out of contention for the win.
And once the race was over, the two drivers got swept up into an all-out brawl on pit road.
There were more punches thrown by crew members – some by teams not connected to the drivers involved – than by drivers but both Gordon and Keselowski were left bloodied in the aftermath.
Neither driver struck the other.
The fight comes on the heels of Keselowski being involved in multiple disputes with drivers following the race at Charlotte on Oct 11. Those included a physical confrontation with Matt Kenseth.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said throwing punches was “over the line” and that NASCAR would take action against those it could identify from Sunday. Any penalties would likely be issued by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Kevin Harvick seemed to instigate some of the action when he shoved Keselowski toward Gordon, which extended the confrontation.
“I mean if you are going to run into people all the time you are going to have to fight your own fight, so I helped him get into it,” Harvick said of the incident.
Keselowski said he was simply racing for position and a chance to win the race when he made contact with Gordon. He vowed to continue to race hard every lap.
“Kevin likes everybody to fight for some reason. I came here to race, not to fight,” Keselowski said. “I raced as hard as I could and these guys just didn’t like it.”
Gordon remained incensed he lost an opportunity to win the race, which would have locked him into a position to compete for the championship in the Nov. 16 season finale at Homestead, Fla.
“It’s emotion that is a part of this Chase and this format as well as towards people that make dumb decisions. He has been making a lot of them lately,” Gordon said of Keselowski.
“That is why people have been running after him and chasing him down. It’s why his team has got to defend him over there because of what he does on the race track.”