Phoenix Fireweorks: A Crazy Day in the Chase for the Sprint Cup

Jim FolsomContributorNovember 11, 2012

Kevin Harvick takes the green at the end of the race
Kevin Harvick takes the green at the end of the raceChristian Petersen/Getty Images

WOW! So many things to talk about after the Phoenix Chase for the Sprint Cup race, it's hard to know where to start. Though, I suppose we should start with the Chase results.

First, with 77 laps to go, five-time champ Jimmie Johnson hit the wall and pretty much ended his title hopes. You'd think that would be enough huge news for the day, but no, not even close.

In the waning laps, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, both in the top five, got together and it sent Gordon into the wall after cutting a tire down. Gordon had apparently had enough, not just from this race but previous races as well, so a few laps later Gordon willfully and maliciously wrecked Bowyer and in the process took out Joey Logano.

Now, I have no problem with drivers retaliating for a hit that took them out. But to do it to a guy who still has a shot at the championship this late in the season, is a bit much. While I like the fact that Gordon didn't let it slide, he should have waited for a better time for payback.

And the reason is because of what happened next. Understandably, Bowyer's crew was none too pleased watching their championship hopes ended on an intentional hit and went after Gordon when he got out of his car. Gordon's pit crew had his back and what ensued was a melee right there on pit road.

Drivers getting into a shoving match is no big deal. In fact, it's what NASCAR wanted when they told drivers to "have at it" a couple of years back. But this could have gotten ugly. In fact it did get ugly.

Let's be honest. Had this been somebody besides Gordon, intentionally taking another car out like that would draw a suspension. Maybe this will, maybe it won't. But it probably should.

But wait, things got even more interesting still. The Gordon hit on Bowyer brought out a red flag, and that necessitated a green-white-checker finish. Predictably, Kevin Harvick, who was walking away with the race, claimed to have crossed the line before the yellow came out. Car owner Richard Childress argued it with the NASCAR officials to no avail. Or so we thought.

Even though replays showed NASCAR was right in calling for the green-white-checker, it appears that NASCAR was gun shy about throwing another yellow on Harvick with what happened next.

After the green came out, Danica Patrick spun out and got up into the wall, then came back down across the track. Everyone in the house was thinking that the yellow was out and that there would be another green-white-checker. But in this crazy afternoon, nothing could be assumed.

NASCAR left the green out and the leaders raced for the checkered flag with Patrick's car not far from the finish line. Harvick took the green as many of the cars were sliding through oil and debris left on the track by Patrick's car. As you can imagine, multiple cars were totalled. NASCAR not throwing a yellow out in that situation was wreckless at best. At worst, it was insane.

I've watched a lot of racing in my lifetime and I cannot ever recall a caution not being thrown out in that situation. There is no excuse for that. Drivers could have gotten hurt, or worse.

But other than that, not much happened at the race today.