NASCAR Notebook: Gordon, Bowyer tangle at Phoenix

Associated Press Published: November 11, 2012
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Both drivers and their crew chiefs met with NASCAR officials after the race as sheriff's deputies guarded the door.

Pemberton said they would look further into the incident this week before determining any kind of punishment.

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JOHNSON'S CRASH: Johnson came into Sunday's race at PIR with a seven-point lead in what had become a two-man race with Keselowski. The five-time series champion had a decent car and was in good position to at least keep his lead if not build on it.

In a flash, he went from leading to trailing.

Running seventh on the 77th lap, Johnson started to feel a vibration in the right front of his car. Next thing he knew, the tire on that side had gone down, sending his car straight into the wall.

Johnson's crew worked hard in the garage to get the car back out, but he was 38 laps down when he returned.

Johnson finished 32nd, his worst finish in 19 starts at Phoenix, and heads into the season finale in second, 20 points behind Keselowski

"It's way, way out of our control after the problem we had today," said Johnson, whose previous worst finish in a Chase race at Phoenix was 14th. "We still have to go to Homestead and race, and anything can happen down there. But not the position you want to be in leaving Phoenix."

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HARVICK AND CHILDRESS: Kevin Harvick ended a 44-race losing streak by beating Kyle Busch on a pair of late restarts at PIR on Sunday.

It isn't likely to change his standing at Richard Childress Racing.

Harvick's contract with the team ends after next season and team owner Childress is openly grooming his organization for his grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, who are currently competing in NASCAR's lower national levels.

"We look to everybody in '13 to go win a championship and whatever happens, happens," Childress said. "It's a business decision; this is a business sport."

ESPN reported on Friday that Harvick has signed a multi-year agreement to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing when his contract with Childress expires. Stewart wouldn't confirm the deal, nor would Harvick, who holds no grudges against his current team.

"What happens on a business side of things, Richard Childress and myself will always be friends, good or bad," Harvick said. "(We may) agree to disagree, but we still have a lot of racing to do and we owe it to our sponsors and to our company to go out and do exactly what we did today."

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PARALYZED VETERANS CONTEST: Pennzoil donated three retro-fitted Dodge vehicles to three paralyzed veterans as part of the company's Long Love Cars campaign.

The vehicles were presented at a ceremony on Sunday — Veteran's Day — before NASCAR's race at Phoenix International Raceway. The three veterans were selected from hundreds and received a vehicle of their choosing, retro-fitted to their specific needs.

Pennzoil donated $100,000 to the Paralyzed Veterans of America to support the organization's Mission: ABLE program to retro-fit vehicles for injured veterans through the Long Love Cars Contest. Pennzoil also is donating a portion of each qualifying Pennzoil motor oil purchase at Dollar General stores to the Paralyzed Veterans, which generated an additional $50,000 donation.

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LUG NUTS: Keselowski can clinch his first title by finishing 15th or better at Homestead, 16th and at least one lap led or 17th and most laps led. ... PIR will sponsor UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz during his upcoming title fight in 2013. Cruz, from Tucson, will wear PIR's logo will be visible on his trunks. ... Martin Truex set a track record in qualifying, only to have it broken by Kyle Busch. He had even worse luck on race day, derailed by an engine problem on lap 5. He ended up finishing last in the 43-car field.

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