Last week following the AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, two NASCAR champions- Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski- and their teams were involved in a heated brawl following a testy exchange on the track.
“There’s a little bit of a misunderstanding: I have no issue with a guy being aggressive and making a bold move,” Gordon said in a post-race interview. “If you win the race and the guy you slam finishes third or fourth, I’ll be the first to stand up and say, ‘That was awesome. Great move.'”
“But when you don’t win the race and you ruin the person’s day, there are consequences you’re going to have to deal with. And how you handle yourself after that is a part of that.”
According to Gordon (and as seen on tape), Keselowski made no attempt to apologize or reach a reconciliation for his move. This, obviously, was no good for Gordon and his team.
In an interview with USA Today, Gordon recounted similar driving moves by Dale Earnhardt Sr. and how he would smooth any tension out after the race. “The first thing he did was put his arm around you and say, ‘Hey man, I didn’t mean to do that. I really apologize. While you didn’t necessarily believe him, it had an effect. It did.”
As far as discipline for the incident goes…
Late last week, NASCAR finally handed down suspensions and fines for the altercation. But to everyone’s surprise, Gordon, Keselowski, and driver Kevin Harvick (who pushed Keselowski into Gordon to help ignite the problems) were left off of the disciplinary action list. Instead, NASCAR doled out $25,000 fines and six-race suspensions for three crew members, as well as a $10,000 fine and a three-race suspension for another. On top of that, the crew chiefs for both the Keselowski and Gordon teams were fined $50,000 (!!!) and given six-race suspensions.
Because the fight stemmed from an on-track incident involving the drivers, everyone was shocked by NASCAR’s decision not to suspend Gordon and Keselowski. But nobody should be surprised.
Obviously, this is a move to protect the NASCAR product. NASCAR knows that taking out big name drivers (the one’s who put the asses in the seats) could only damage their brand and piss off their fans. So, why bother, right?