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Brawl erupts between crews after Gordon slams Bowyer at Phoenix

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012

It started with a tap and it ended in a brawl.

And the true fallout remains to be seen.

Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon banged into each other on Lap 310 of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway and Gordon didn’t take too kindly to the incident.

So much so, in fact, that on the next lap as Bowyer was approaching him from behind, Gordon appeared to slow on the track, then turned right and slammed his No. 24 Chevrolet into Bowyer’s No. 15 Toyota.

The wreck also collected the cars of Joey Logano and Aric Almirola and the caution which came out forced Kevin Harvick to wait at least two extra laps to claim his first victory of the season.

And that was just the beginning.

After the drivers made their way back to pit road, the crews of both teams broke out in a fight just as NASCAR put out a red flag to stop the race in order to clean the debris from the wreck.

The confrontation seemed about to diffuse when ESPN cameras caught Bowyer running from pit road, through the entire garage and to Gordon’s team’s hauler in an effort to confront the four-time series champion.

Bowyer was intercepted before he could reach Gordon but another large crowd of team members gathered again in a standoff.

Bowyer even made a half-hearted attempt to get back in his badly-wrecked race car and return to the track for the final two laps.

When all was said and done, both Bowyer and Gordon and their crew chiefs paid visits to the NASCAR hauler.

Gordon did not seem very pleased after the visit.

“They have to do what they have to do and I had to do what I had to do,” Gordon said as he walked away.

“I reached my limit, tired of getting run into by (Bowyer),” Gordon posted on his Twitter account after the race. “Sorry to the other guys involved.”

NASCAR did not announce any penalties Sunday night but planned to review the incident.

“I just barely touched him,” Bowyer said of how the first contact started with Gordon. “I literally barely rubbed him and then all of a sudden I feel him trying to retaliate and – I don’t know – (he) missed (me) or something and hit the wall and made himself look like a fool.”

Bowyer said his spotter, Brett Griffin, told him over the radio that Gordon was slowing on the track waiting for him.

“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 completely ridiculous,” Bowyer said.

Asked if he planned to retaliate in the future, Bowyer said, “We just have to see.”

Utter: 704-358-5113

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