Jeff Gordon's retaliation against Clint Bowyer leads to chaos: Here's what everyone involved is saying
Bowyer races Gordon hard, Gordon retaliates in a major way – knocking Bowyer out of Chase contention in the process. Crews fight in the garage, Bowyer runs like a crazy man back to the garage to try to fight Gordon, lots of people will likely be fined over this. Gordon could conceivable by parked over this, though I doubt that will happen nor do I think they should do it.
I think that covers it. So let’s recap this whole fight thing.
It was great theater; and it’s what happens when drivers get testy. I love it as a fan, and the scene with Bowyer running through the garage like a maniac looking for Gordon will never be forgotten by me or the rest of those who were watching (“He’s lost his mind“, visibly shaken ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little said).
“Things have gotten escalated over the year and I have just had it. Clint (Bowyer) has run into me numerous times, wrecked me and he got into me on the back straightaway, pretty much ruined our day. I have had it, was fed up with it and got him back.”
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT ANY PENALTIES? “They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. Just like I had to do what I had to do.”
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24:
“Well I mean it’s about the fifth time that he (Clint Bowyer) has run us over. After a while you get really frustrated. We all work really hard on these cars and Jeff (Gordon) races everybody with a lot of respect. Evidently he had enough. If you are going to play that way, if you are going to race that way then you shouldn’t be upset when you get it back.”
“I love Jeff Gordon. I stand by him 100 percent and that is what we had to do. We will fix them all day long. He is a great race car driver and he knows, everybody out here will tell you he is as good a race car driver and a competitor as there is. If he is tired of it, it means it’s time.”
“The crew thing is it’s between Jeff and Clint and not those team members. My instructions 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.”
“I don’t care.”
RICK HENDRICK, TEAM OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
"I mean the racing -- it's just a shame. The last person in the world you want to get into anything with is Jeff Gordon on the race track. I mean, you're down there racing, the track's extremely slick, we're all on tires -- I didn't even need to pass him. That's the thing. All I was doing is riding around biding my time. The only thing I had to do is keep the 5 car (Kasey Kahne) within reach, so for him to act like that -- I mean, I barely touched him and then I feel him get into turn three and try to turn me and he missed and then next thing I know Brett's (Griffin, spotter) telling me on the radio that he's trying to -- he's waiting on me. 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 just completely ridiculous."
What did NASCAR say when you met them after the race?
"I don't know. There's nothing you can do to fix it now. It's over with. You've got to go on to Homestead (-Miami Speedway). I've got to try to beat the 5 car (Kasey Kahne), but I mean 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 asked us not to do that in the driver's meeting and there's usually a lot of respect there. Like I said, it's crazy -- I didn't even need to pass him. I was plenty content riding behind him and he slipped up down there, I get under him and here he comes back. I just barely touched him. I literally barely rubbed him and then all the sudden I feel him trying to retaliate and -- I don't know -- missed or something and hit the wall and made himself look like a fool."
Will you retaliate?
"We just have to see."
Should NASCAR penalize Jeff Gordon?
"You guys have been covering this sport a long time. Same circumstances happened -- what was it, last year or year before and disrupted a championship and I don't understand how that's any different. Like I said, it's over with and done and have to go to Homestead (-Miami Speedway) and do the best we can."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, owner, No. 15
"I've never seen anything like what Jeff Gordon did to a guy racing for a championship. Cowardly, chickens--- move by someone that has raced for championships before, and knows how important every position is. They barely brushed on the back straightaway and he waits -- he purposely waits and tells everybody he's waiting and wrecks our car and our hopes for racing for a championship. I'm beside myself. I can't believe that he would get involved in the championship battle."