Wild race blows championship open for Keselowski

Associated Press Modified: November 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm •  Published: November 11, 2012
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This one began as the field closed in on what should have been the final lap and Gordon slowed his car to wait for Bowyer so he could intentionally wreck him as retaliation for several weeks of on-track contact between the two.

After Gordon climbed from his car in the garage, he appeared to be jumped from behind by one of Bowyer's crew members. It led to a full brawl between the crews, with Bowyer sprinting from his car to join the fracas. Bowyer was held back by NASCAR officials from entering Gordon's hauler.

"It's pretty embarrassing," Bowyer said. "For a four-time champion, and what I consider one of the best this sport's ever seen to act like this is pretty ridiculous."

Both drivers and their crew chiefs were called to the NASCAR hauler for a meeting with series officials, and police officers stood outside on guard.

Gordon said he's had problems with Bowyer all season and had reached his limit.

"Things just got escalated over the year, and I'd just had it," he said. "Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. I've had it, fed up with it and I got him back."

He said he didn't know what penalties might be coming from NASCAR.

"They've got to do what they've got to do, and I guess I had to do what," he said.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the situation would be looked at further this week.

"That was surely a shame," he said. "We'll continue to try to get everybody back calm down and back to a working situation."

But Keselowski was livid, questioning the double-standard a week after he was criticized for racing hard on the final restarts against Johnson last week at Texas.

He could have wrecked Johnson for the victory, and three years ago he might have done just that. But Keselowski was only aggressive, and even after losing the race was condemned by some of his fellow competitors.

Three-time champion Tony Stewart said Keselowski had "a death wish" and Kyle Busch felt some drivers wouldn't give Keselowski a break on the track because he raced Johnson too hard on the last restart.

"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," he said. "These guys just tried to kill each other ... they should be ashamed. It's embarrassing."

He'll move on now to Homestead, where a conservative day should be enough to wrap up the title.

But he saw what happened to Johnson, at one of Johnson's best tracks, and won't take anything for granted.

"Obviously there are no guarantees," he said. "We could go to Homestead and have the same problem and Jimmie, you know, takes the point lead back over."

Johnson, who has been thinking lately about a NASCAR-record eight championships, sounded resigned after his 32nd-place finish to going for broke at Homestead.

"It's way, way out of our control. That's racing, and we'll go to Homestead and do all we can down there and see how things pan out," he said. "Anything can happen in racing. I'm very proud of the year, I'm very proud of the effort. I hate to see it potentially end this way, but again, that's racing. I've been doing this a long time. I've won a few championships and I've lost a lot.

"Losing isn't any fun, but we'll be back next weekend and next year hungrier than ever and do the best we can."

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