It was Jimmie Johnson who last week compared the final two weeks of this Chase of the Championship battle to bare-knuckle fighting.
Unlikely the five-time champ will ever need a side job, but the Psychic Friends Network would be an option.
How angry was everybody after Sunday’s penultimate race at Phoenix? Brad Keselowski let out an expletive-filled postrace rant on the lack of professionalism in the sport and the double standards on which drivers are considered dirty.
And that’s the guy who’s winning. Keselowski luckily avoided the wreck that led to the now-famous Jeff Gordon/Clint Bowyer post-race battle royale, benefited from Johnson smacking the wall after blowing a tire and now takes a commanding 20-point lead into Sunday’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Keselowski can clinch the title with a 15th-place finish, a 16th-place finish with a lap led and a 17-th place finish with the most laps led, regardless of what Johnson does.
But Keselowski wasn’t doing cartwheels after the race.
“I’m more just disappointed in the quality of racing that we saw today,” Keselowski said. ” I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and I was ashamed to be a part of it.”
The size of Keselowski’s lead more than ever makes the title race a sidebar story compared to the fight, which originated after Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer late in the race.
“Things have gotten escalated over the year and I have just had it,” Gordon said, noting past incidents this season. “Clint 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.”
After the race, Gordon was confronted by several of Bowyer’s team members near Gordon’s hauler, leading to a rugby scrum between the two teams. Bowyer then bolted out of his battered car and ran several hundred yards to join the fray, even trying to jump inside Gordon’s hauler to get to him before being grabbed.
NASCAR generally doesn’t access penalties on a Monday, so when it does you know the sanctioning body is upset. Gordon was fined $100,000 and docked 25 driver points. But Bowyer suffered even more, as he would have still had a mathematical — if highly unlikely — chance of winning the title at Homestead had he not gotten wrecked.
For that reason, some felt Gordon should have been parked for Sunday’s race at Homestead. NASCAR officials warned drivers during the Phoenix prerace drivers meeting about doing anything untoward that would affect the championship race. Last year at Texas, Kyle Busch was parked for the weekend’s Nationwide and Sprint Cup races after intentionally running Camping World Truck Series contender Ron Hornaday Jr. during a caution flag.
“You guys have been covering this sport a long time. Same circumstances happened — what was it, last year or year before and disrupted a championship and I don’t understand how that’s any different,” Bowyer said Sunday. “Like I said, it’s over with and done and have to go to Homestead and do the best we can.”
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