Under a scorching sun, burning rubber on a hot track, roasting in a car going over 150 mph all day, pushing for points in a hotly contested race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the last thing Jeff Gordon wanted to see was his front end colliding with the wall. But that is exactly what happened on Lap 192 at the Texas Motor Speedway Sunday when Jeff Burton ran into the back end of Gordon’s car, seemed to get hung up, and put Gordon’s No. 24 car into the wall. But that wasn’t the end of it. ESPN cameras caught a boiling hot Jeff Gordon ready to fight…
Gordon shoved Burton at the bottom edge of the track. He then took a couple swings before others stepped between the two drivers. A visibly angry Gordon kept trying to step around the interference but wasn’t allowed.
Gordon later said he lost a lot of respect for Burton.
“Thankfully, I had a long walk to him down the backstretch because I did about the least amount I was going to. I wanted to do a whole lot more to him,” Gordon told reporters after the fight. “I was walking toward him and I started going through all the scenarios in my mind. You know, I like Jeff, he’s a guy that’s usually very rational and I respect his opinion and he apologized, said it was his fault, said he didn’t mean to do it, and whatever. It’s over.”
It all started just before a caution flag came out and Gordon had attempted to pass Jeff Burton low. Burton had cut him off. When the caution flag came down, Gordon pulled up alongside Burton to let him know what he thought of Burton’s move. When Gordon pulled ahead of him, Burton moved to catch up, to go alongside Gordon and admit his mistake. He somehow got too close, then caught up under Gordon’s rear bumper, sending the No. 24 car into the wall.
“I should have let him go and didn’t,” Burton later said of the incident.
Jeff Burton also took complete responsibility for the wreck. “Hundred percent it was my fault,” Burton acknowledged. And he didn’t blame Jeff Gordon for coming after him. “I knew he was going to be mad, and I don’t blame him for being mad. He didn’t do anything that he shouldn’t have done. He was upset. He should have been upset. I wrecked him under caution, and he wanted to tell me he was upset. That’s OK. I don’t have a bit of problem with what he did. He was mad, and he deserved to be mad.”
Burton said he really didn’t know what happened. He said the sun was bad on the track in that area and as he moved to go around Gordon, he ran into him. Gordon said he would never believe that. He believed Burton wrecked him intentionally.
“He was trying to talk to me, to explain what happened,” Gordon said. “He thought I came up on him and he didn’t mean to wreck me. But I’m sorry. I will never believe that. I’ve been driving a race car long enough to know what your intentions are, and I know what they were right there.”
The two were loaded into an ambulance — together — just moments later. Gordon told reporters he was quiet for most of the ride. Burton kept trying to apologize for the wreck.
But the Texas sun took its toll on another driver as well. Kyle Busch was penalized two laps after he gave a NASCAR official the finger for calling a pit road speeding infraction on the driver, a penalty that would have only cost him one lap. Busch would finish two laps behind.
Denny Hamlin won the Texas race and took the Sprint Cup points lead, passing then-points leader Matt Kenseth with just two laps to go in the contest. He now leads Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth, by 33 points with only two races left to complete the season.
Video of the Jeff Gordon – Jeff Burton fight in Texas follows.
“Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton crash and fight,” ESPN.go.com
“Gordon unapologetic after altercation with Burton,” NASCAR.com