NASCAR is just about the highest form of motor sports in the U.S. I know that some of you will disagree with this but hear me out or forever hold your peace. Think about it this way – Formula 1 has only had a few Americans compete in it over the past 60-some-odd years. NASCAR is the American version of Formula 1.
There have been some gigantic fights in NASCAR over the years, but the one that really kicked it off was Bobby and Donnie Allison getting into a fistfight with Cale Yarborough in 1979 at Daytona. There have been some other big fights, notably the Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin pit crew fight a few years back. The most recent just happened to be a series of fights between Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth.
Is NASCAR still NASCAR or is it WWE? Look at the picture and decide for yourself. Here’s the lowdown on what happened.
A restart with 63 laps to go sent Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth bashing eachother for the lead. Keselowski thought Kenseth was pushing him and didn’t leave a line toward the wall for Kenseth, who was, in fact, trying to pass him. Kenseth was forced into the wall and bounced into Keselowski, damaging both cars. While that’s not uncommon in NASCAR, what happened next was.
A restart with six laps to go gave Kenseth, who was a lap down due to his damage, a free pass, which means that he was no longer a lap down. You’re thinking score for Kenseth, right? Not exactly. On his way around the track, he somehow managed to “accidentally” drive around Keselowski’s nose (not his facial nose – his car’s!), damaging the car.
On the restart with two laps to go, Keselowski bashed Denny Hamlin in turn 1. Hamlin felt Keselowski’s push, and was enraged when he fell to 11th because of this. Keselowski lost his momentum (and his Top 10 spot), and fell to 16th place due to the now-extensive damage to his car.
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s normal.” What happened next was more than abnormal.
After the race, Hamlin jammed on his brakes directly in front of Keselowski to show his immense displeasure. As a result of this, Keselowski floored the gas and tried to spin Hamlin. It didn’t work. He simply went right around Hamlin, clipping Hamlin’s rear bumper in the process.
Keselowski then proceeded to drive into pit row as he chased down Kenseth, who was unbuckling his safety belts (a common practice among drivers after a race as they come near their pit box). He T-boned Kenseth, and then inadvertently hit the rear bumper of Tony Stewart. Stewart, who wasn’t going that fast, stopped his car, jammed it in reverse, and rammed into the front end of Keselowski’s car, destroying the front end. Keselowski, who was frantically trying to get away from Stewart, backed into Danica Patrick’s car.
Keselowski then untangled his car from the small pileup and drove past everybody and went into his garage. Hamlin followed him, making contact as Keselowski made his way into the garage, and stuck both cars together. Keselowski floored the gas in reverse so he could get away, leaving a massive, smoky burnout mark in the garage. He then drove across some equipment of the team’s that was laying on the ground to get to his car hauler.
The now-furious Hamlin climbed out of his now-stopped car first, and started storming towards Keselowski’s baby-blue Ford, which just so happened to be parked right in front of his black Toyota. A Hamlin crew member led him away from the cars and handed him a towel to dry his face off. However, as Keselowski climbed out of his car, Hamlin walked over to Keselowski’s car and threw the sweaty towel at Keselowski, hitting him in the helmet. Hamlin then ran over to the stunned Keselowski and put him in a bear hug and started to wildly shake him. After a few moments of scuffling among drivers and crews, Keselowski walked to his hauler.
Let’s not forget about Matt Kenseth. Kenseth wanted blood. He followed Keselowski and attacked him from behind as Keselowski was about to enter his hauler trailer. Crew members of Kenseth intervened after Kenseth put Keselowski in a headlock. Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, put Kenseth in a chokehold and started to drag him away. Kenseth crew members immediately separated the two brawling drivers. During this encounter, Keselowski said, “You hit me under yellow. You hit me under yellow. You hit me under yellow.”
Here’s what Kenseth had to say about the incident. “(Keselowski) was doing something with Denny. The race had ended, and he’s running into cars on the cool-down lap. I mean, the race is over, and he comes down pit row and drives into the side of me. That’s inexcusable. He’s a champion, and he’s supposed to know better.”
After composing himself inside of his hauler for a few minutes, Keselowski gave a few words to USAToday. “When we restarted fifth with no right front on it, we fell all the way back to 16th and ruined our day. That gave us a big Chase hurt, which is unfortunate. Then, for some reason, after the race the 11 (Hamlin) stopped in front of me and tried to pick a fight. I don’t know what that was all about, and he swung and hit at my car, so I figured if we’re going to play car wars under yellow and after the race, I’ll join too. Those guys can dish it out, but they can’t take it. I gave it back to them and now they want to fight, so I don’t know what’s up with that.”
What Keselowski should have done would have been to take the high road and forget about it. Why give attention to angry people like that? Just let it roll off and forget about it.
Hamlin called Keselowski “Out of control. He’s desperate, obviously, and it’s either four or five of us are wrong or he’s wrong because he’s pissed off everyone…that was unfortunate. Matt was nearly out of his car, and he just plowed into Matt and then ran into Tony and then went into the garage and cleared out transmissions and did burnouts in the garage. Just acting like a dumb*** instead of a champion.” Hamlin also added Keselowski “Will probably try to wreck everyone” at Talladega next week. “He’ll just be out of control like normal. We’ll do what we’ll have to do to get in, and that’s the big picture.”
NASCAR’s vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, said the sanctioning body had called Keselowski into the hauler. “We asked Brad to come in and talk to us a little bit and get his take on what went on in the closing laps of the race and the post-race incidents, so we’ve got that and we’ll talk to some other people,” he said, adding Joe Gibbs Racing mechanic Jesse Sanders was also called to the hauler for his role in the altercation.
Kenseth was angry about what Keselowski did to him on pit row (for good reason). “I don’t know if he was mad at me,” Kenseth said. “I had my HANS (safety device) off and my seat belts off and everything. He clobbered me at 50 mph. … If you want to talk about it as a man, try to do that, but to try and wreck someone on the racetrack, come down pit road with other cars and people standing around with seat belts off and drive in the side of me.”
Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, blamed Hamlin for the entire incident. “I think Denny started the whole thing after the checkered flag,” he said. “Started pushing Brad around, and at some point we’ve got to stand our ground and not let that happen. From there, I guess some people got frustrated and the fight broke out.”
Kevin Harvick, the winner of the hotly-contested race showed that maybe NASCAR’s new Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship format had added pressure to the races, and that every moment matters. When asked if NASCAR might send hefty penalties to the drivers involved, he replied, “You’re crazy; they love it.”
NASCAR announced today that both Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski were both being penalized for their actions following the race.
Keselowski has been fined $50,000, and been placed on probation from driving for the next four races for violating the following penalties:
Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing.
Section 12-4.9: Behavioral penalty – involved in post-race incidents
Stewart has been fined $25,000, and has been placed on probation from driving for the next four races for violating the same penalties. I disagree with NASCAR giving a penalty to Tony Stewart. In my eyes, Stewart did nothing more than what most drivers do – back into their car as a warning. Yes, he did ruin the front end of Keselowski’s car, which there was no need for at all. He would have been better off leaving it alone and going on to his pit. I feel that NASCAR was unfair in their penalty assignment, and should have given a penalty to Matt Kenseth. Kenseth’s actions, as well as the rest of the drivers involved, were highly unprofessional and childlike. His actions were foolish and will most certainly hurt him in the future. I feel that Keselowski’s fine and probation are completely deserved, and he needs to seek treatment for this. I understand that drivers in NASCAR are highly impulsive, but playing bumper cars with big-boy toys that can kill people is unacceptable and foolhardy. All of these drivers need to have more than a slap on the wrist and a fight among themselves. They need to talk it out to each other in a civil manner a couple of days after the incident, and I hope that we will see apologies from all drivers involved in this blemish on NASCAR in the near future.
Here’s the entire video of what happened.