FORT WORTH — When Clint Bowyer bumped Jeff Gordon in Phoenix on Sunday, sending him into the wall, it didn't take long for Gordon to retaliate.
What followed was a brawl that may that has put the focus on NASCAR for all the wrong reasons.
"The fans that don't care for the sport are going to point fingers and say, 'look at those rednecks,'" said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway. "The truth is, it happens in every play in the NFL, hockey and baseball — we see bench-clearing brawls. It’s nothing unusual. Sports is emotional, and these things happen."
On Monday, Gordon was fined $100,000, docked 25 driver’s points and placed on probation until the end of the year.
"They've got to do that; they've got to do it, and just like I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do," Gordon said after he took Bowyer out on Sunday.
Is it over between the two? "Just have to see," Bowyer said.
There are those who feel Sunday's fight is taking away from a great race for the championship between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. But with the focus on bad feelings between Gordon and Bowyer, some say that might not be such a bad thing for NASCAR after all.
"I kind of had brain freeze," Gossage said. "The staff ran to the office and faxed a 57-page plan to next race, Homestead, Florida: 'Here's what you should do to capitalize on this thing.' All I know is, I wish I had the next race on the schedule. They’re taking this Wild Asphalt Circus thing to a whole different level."
Gossage has had first hand experience with fisticuffs at Texas Motor Speedway.
In 1997, A.J. Foyt decked Arie Luyendyk in the victory lane. Foyt thought his driver won when Luyendyk actually did.
Last year, Kyle Busch intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday. Busch was pulled immediately and could not race in the next two events.
Two years ago, NASCAR adopted a "have at it" rule as long as long as drivers didn't put each other in danger. But that was dropped when Dan Weldon died in a fiery crash in the Indy Racing League series one year ago this week.
Kevin Harvick — who has had a few fights of his own — said NASCAR should have more fights.
"It's what has made NASCAR what it is," he said.