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Jeff Gordon defends NASCAR fight with Clint Bowyer

AVONDALE AZ - NOVEMBER 11:  Clint Bowyer driver #15 5-hour Energy ToyotJeff Gorddriver #24 DuPont Chevrolet collide track during

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 11: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, collide on track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Updated: November 12, 2012 12:27PM



Jeff Gordon was fed up with Clint Bowyer and decided the final laps of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway was a good time to take out a season’s worth of frustration.

Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer’s No. 15 Toyota late in the AdvoCare 500, a move that ruined both cars and led to a melee between the teams in the garage and Bowyer to say that Gordon’s action “makes us look like a bunch of (idiots).”

NASCAR met with both drivers after Sunday’s race in a Sprint Cup Series hauler guarded by five sheriff’s officers at one point. Any penalties will be announced later this week.

“It’s just things have gotten escalated over the year, and I’ve just had it,” Gordon said after meeting with NASCAR officials. “Clint’s run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. I’ve had it and was fed up with it and got him back.”

After the incident, Gordon drove his car back to the garage. A member from Bowyer’s team went after Gordon, and a skirmish ensued between the teams. Bowyer parked his car on pit road and could see the fight on a giant video board behind his pit stall. He climbed out of his car and sprinted to the garage, running to Gordon’s hauler before he was physically restrained a few feet from the door.

“The crew thing is between Jeff and Clint and not those team members,” said Alan Gustafson, Gordon’s crew chief. “My instruction to the guys was just, ‘Don’t let anybody get to Jeff.’ And that’s what that’s about. We’re going to protect him and stand behind him at all costs. Those guys obviously have tempers running high as are ours, and that’s what happens.”

Gordon’s action cost Bowyer what slim chances he had of a championship. Bowyer entered Sunday’s race 29 points out of the lead. Bowyer finished 28th Sunday and was eliminated from title contention.

“For him to act like that, I barely touched him and then I feel him get into Turn 3 and try to turn me, and he missed,” Bowyer said after meeting with NASCAR officials. “Next thing I know, (spotter) Brett (Griffin) is telling me on the radio that he’s waiting on me.”

Would there be retaliation from Bowyer as the season ends next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway? “We’ll just have to see,” Bowyer said.

“That was my opportunity to try to get myself back in the championship hunt. When you’re disrupting a championship run like that, it’s too bad. They ask us not to do that in the drivers’ meeting, and there’s usually a lot of respect there.”

Asked if he saw anything on or off the track that might merit suspension to any drivers or crewmembers, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition said: “It’s Sunday night. The best decisions are made sometime after Sunday night, maybe Monday or Tuesday.”



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