After spending most of this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, I’m still not sure what I found more captivating — the horsepower or the accusations of horse-bleep driving.
“I’ve just had it. Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me,” Jeff Gordon said. “He got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. And I’ve had it.”
The short track found tempers running pretty short. No need to cajole, drivers were more than willing to run open throttle in front of open microphones.
“For him to act like that. I mean, I barely touched him,” Clint Bowyer retorted after Gordon played demolition derby on what should’ve been the final lap. “Next thing I know, Brett’s telling me on the radio that he’s waiting on me. I mean, it makes us all look like a bunch of (bleeps). It’s pretty embarrassing.”
Did we mention that when Gordon got out of his car he was jumped from behind by Bowyer’s crew and the garage area turned into an episode of The Jerry Springer Show?
“The sport was made on fights. We should have more fights. I like fights,” Kevin Harvick said after taking the checkered flag with smoke and flames nearby. “They’re not always fun to be in, sometimes you’re on the wrong end, but fights are what made NASCAR what it is.”
No question, the crowd was abuzz. And maybe that’s because everyone with a driver’s license can relate to that frustrated feeling of getting cut off in traffic. Hence, fans live vicariously though drivers who can respond with fender benders and fisticuffs without ending up in handcuffs.
“I’m more just disappointed in the quality of racing that we saw,” Brad Keselowski said, despite taking a commanding lead over Jimmie Johnson in the points standings. “I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and I was ashamed to be a part of it.”
After scribbling down that choice quote, I got up to leave the press conference room and return to Victory Lane. Not yet. Keselowski then slammed his mouth into top gear in decrying how he got slammed for the brand of driving on display at PIR.
“It’s the double standard that I spent a whole week being bashed by a half-dozen drivers about racing hard at Texas and how I’m out of control and have a death wish. Then I see (bleep) like that. That’s (bleep). That’s all you can call that,” Keselowski explained in a calm but stern manner.
“These guys just tried to kill each other. You race hard and I get called a (bleep) for racing hard, and it just (bleeps) me off,” Keselowski continued. “It’s (blanking) ridiculous. And they should be ashamed.”
Yet nobody left their seat. Whether it was in the stands or the press room, you didn’t dare go anywhere until the smoke cleared.