Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer have brought NASCAR more publicity than it would normally be receiving thanks to a brawl that broke out between Bowyer and Gordon's crew after Bowyer felt that Gordon deliberately pulled up so that Bowyer would crash.
However, the cost of the brawl is far greater than any kind of media attention that the sport will get. NASCAR is in the midst of one of its most exciting Chase For The Cup finishes ever, but no one will be discussing that.
As things stand right now, Brad Keselowski has the inside track on the title. With just one race left, Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points and Kasey Kahne by 50. Keselowski basically has to not screw up next weekend to claim the Sprint Cup title.
Yet no one is even talking about what happened on the track. All the attention has been placed on Gordon and Bowyer and what happened after the crash. It was certainly a dramatic moment, one that will be replayed over and over again.
But it is the last thing that NASCAR needed. This sport needed a great ending to the regular season that would get the masses talking. It had all that, with a battle between Johnson and Keselowski for the championship.
It just isn't going to be the first question on anyone's mind leading up to the final race. All the talk is going to be about possible fines and/or suspensions facing Gordon, Bowyer and their crews for the shenanigans that took place after the accident.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton told reporters (via ESPN.com) that the incident would be reviewed before any punishment is handed down: "It's Sunday night. Your best decisions are made sometime after Sunday night, maybe potentially Monday or Tuesday."
That actually makes the matter worse, because reporters are going to be peppering everyone for information on when an announcement is going to come down. The matter must be handled quickly in order to bring focus on what should be a celebratory time for NASCAR.
Gordon, Bowyer and their respective crews should be embarrassed by what they have done to themselves, Keselowski, the Chase For The Cup and NASCAR. It's a shame the actions of a few had to change the entire narrative leading up to the final race.