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article imageNASCAR: ‘Chase’ all but ends with a brawl after Phoenix race

By John Duarte     Nov 12, 2012 in Sports
Avondale - Brad Keselowski can almost feel the elation of winning his first Sprint Cup title. All he has to do is finish in the Top 15 in the final race of the NASCAR season. But, Keselowski was less than thrilled with what he saw in this weekend’s AdvoCare 500.
By finishing sixth in the race, Keselowski takes a 20-point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings into next weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. All he has to do is drive smart, if not conservatively, and cruise into the NASCAR championship. The only driver mathematically able to wrestle the Sprint Cup title from Keselowski’s grasp is Jimmie Johnson. The maximum points awarded under the NASCAR scoring system is 48 and Kasey Kahne is third in the standings, with 50 points less than the leader.
Most prominent on Keselowski’s mind, however, was the ugliness that permeated the AdvoCare 500, a race marred with crashes and even a pit-lane brawl at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday.
“I am disappointed in the quality of racing that we saw today. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and I was ashamed to be a part of it.” Keselowski was not about to mince his words. “I see (expletive) like that. That’s (expletive). That’s all you can call that. These guys just tried to kill each other. It’s embarrassing.”
Kevin Harvick won his first race in 44 races, racing to the finish line ahead of Denny Hamlin, whose late dash put him into second place the AdvoCare 500. Behind them was Kyle Busch, who had dominated the race before settling for his second-consecutive third-place finish.
“Everybody has worked hard all year long, and we got a little behind on some of this skew and all this stuff that people were doing. It put us behind and, you know, we didn’t get the year we wanted,” Harvick said after the race. “But to come out with a win, it was big. It was a really good week.”
The main topic of conversation likely to dominate this weekend’s race is the fracas that ensued between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, and their respective team members. The animosity started when Gordon wrecked Bowyer’s car on the second-to-last lap in the race. The incident was triggered earlier in the race when contact with Bowyer flattened Gordon’s left front tire and sent the latter into the wall.
“Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day,” Gordon noted. “Things just got escalated over the year, and I’d just had it. I’ve had it, fed up with it and I got him back.”
Bowyer came to Phoenix in third place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 36 points behind the leader. The wreck eliminated him from contention in this year’s title chase. He emerged from a meeting with NASCAR officials after the dust had settled shaking his head at the turn of events.
“It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion—and what I consider to be one of the best this sport has ever seen—to act like that,” he said.
Michael Waltrip, who owns Bowyer’s car, vented his frustration openly. “I’ve never seen anything like what Jeff Gordon did to a guy racing for the championship.” “(It was a) cowardly, chicken move by someone who has raced for championships before and knows how important every position is.”
As to what will happen next between the two drivers and their teams, Gordon all but shrugs it off. “They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, and I guess I had to do what I had to do.”
Race-winner Harvick joked about the whole thing. “Fights are what made NASCAR what it is. We should have more fights. I like fights,” he said.
Members of Jeff Gordon’s and Clint Bowyer’s teams stand around in the pit area at Phoenix Intern...
Members of Jeff Gordon’s and Clint Bowyer’s teams stand around in the pit area at Phoenix International Raceway, after police had to step in to quell a brawl that broke out between the two pit crews following an on-track incident during the AdvoCare 500, on Nov. 11, 2012.
Tyler Barrick/Getty Images
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