Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton Create Latest Case For Emotion In NASCAR
During Sunday's AAA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR fans saw something they haven't seen in a long time.
Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon proved that the era of corporate influence hasn't altered the conviction that the drivers have behind the wheel.
If the fight is at one end of the modern television era for NASCAR that began with the 1979 Daytona 500, the fight between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough is at the other.
Here's a look at the genesis of yesterday's brawl, and the 1979 genesis of televised driver beat downs.
Jeff Gordon Puts Together Solid Day
Jeff Gordon came into the AAA Texas 500 all but mathematically eliminated from the championship hunt.
Riding a 62 race winless streak, Gordon came in with confidence.
In the spring at Texas he had led the most laps and dominated large portions of the race before getting taken out in an accident.
The spring event was also noteworthy for the contact between Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson.
After qualifying 15th and running in the top ten in final practice, Gordon felt like Texas could be the place to return to winning form.
Jeff Burton Hopes To Give RCR Another Chase Victory
Jeff Burton lined up for the AAA Texas 500 alongside Jeff Gordon in 16th position.
Burton was carrying his own winless burden of 75 races, and was hoping to further validate Richard Childress Racing in the Chase.
The first Chase race of 2010 was won by teammate Clint Bowyer, but later marred by a NASCAR penalty ruling that virtually eliminated Bowyer from championship contention.
Going into the race 352 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, the 2010 championship was out of reach, but there was still room for forward movement among the 12 Chasers.
Trouble For Burton and Gordon
After Martin Truex Jr's third accident of the day coming out of turn four, the field was slowed for caution on lap 192.
Burton and Gordon were in turn two.
Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton Collide
As the field came to the caution, Burton said he was blinded by the sun and ran into Gordon.
Burton admitted to cutting Gordon off while Gordon was attempting to pass just a couple of laps before.
Ring The Bell!
Gordon's car came to rest near the outside wall exiting turn two, Burton's car was to the inside.
Gordon exited his car and refused the ambulance, instead making an emergency trip to Burton's No. 31 Chevrolet.
After a quick pseudo-brawl, the two combatants were separated by NASCAR officials, and rode to the infield care center in the same ambulance.
Jeff Gordon announced in an interview after the incident that Burton "deserved a lot more than that."
Take a look at the complete video below.
Jeff Burton Claims Responsibility
After a quick check at the infield care center, both Burton and Gordon were released.
In an interview shortly after his release, Burton claimed responsibility for the wreck and the misunderstanding.
"I wrecked him under caution, and he wanted to tell me he was upset," Burton said. "He was mad, and he deserved to be mad."
NASCAR generally announces penalties on Tuesday, and by then we should have a better picture of NASCAR's view of the whole exchange.
The Original NASCAR Brawl
In 1979, NASCAR enjoyed its biggest moment in the sun to date, with the first flag to flag coverage of the Daytona 500 on CBS.
It was a race that was monumental for a number of reasons, including Richard Petty's sixth win in the Great American Race and a rookie from North Carolina by the name of Dale Earnhardt.
The race was also marked by a crash between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough as they battled down the back straightaway headed for the checkered flag.
After the wreck, Richard Petty, Darrell Watrip and A.J. Foyt cruised by to take the top three positions.
On the back straightaway, Donnie and Cale started to fight and were eventually joined by Donnie's brother Bobby Allison.
Bobby Allison says to this day that Cale Yarborough repeatedly "beat my hand with his face."
Donnie Allison was credited with a fourth place finish, Cale Yarborough took home fifth.