It's the equivalent of a brawl in the seventh inning of a World Series game or a cheap shot during the Super Bowl.
Sunday, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton—two drivers you least expect to get into a physical fight—exchanged blows after a lap-192 incident during caution in which Burton appeared to retaliate after Gordon cut in front of him, taking both out of the race.
Rather than hop into the ambulance for his mandatory infield care center visit, Gordon went to Burton's car and took a swing at him.
The video attached shows what ensued after that.
Of course, Denny Hamlin's victory seems to suggest that Jimmie Johnson will not win a fifth consecutive Sprint Cup title, unless the Virginian has horrific luck in the final two weeks.
However, a fight between "The Mayor" and Gordon stole the spotlight, and may be just what the doctor ordered to draw interest back into the sport.
Gordon was once the embodiment of the clean-cut image the sport wanted to represent in the mainstream media. Now, he can stand as the rugged veteran with a long losing streak and a shrunken temper—not unlike a certain seven-time Sprint Cup champion.
Burton admitted after the crash that while it was purely a racing incident, he took responsibility for getting into Gordon and agreed that the former "Rainbow Warrior" had every right to go after him.
Sunday's events were the true embodiment of competition director Robin Pemberton's "Have at it, boys" edict. Instead of pulling a Carl Edwards and recklessly ramming into somebody at a high speed, with incidents elevating as the races go on, a one-race slug-fest in which both sides can get over the incident is much more ideal.
Instead of sponsor-friendly faces with vanilla personalities, fans are starving for more drivers who are leaving every ounce of their emotions on the track. Notice how often Kyle Busch is really booed anymore.
Sure, viewers and sponsors are leaving the sport, taking their millions of dollars elsewhere.
For one Sunday in October, however, racing seemed to go back to the way it used to be.
Thoughts? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.
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