Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton Put NASCAR Back in Spotlight in an Unexpected Way

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Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton Put NASCAR Back in Spotlight in an Unexpected Way
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Gordon didn't finish the race, but his on-track actions are still the talk of NASCAR today.

The only thing missing from Sunday's race at Texas was Ken Squier on the microphone. Ever since NASCAR decided to go back to the "boys, have at it" philosophy, many incidents have illustrated the expectations that come with that philosophy.

The AAA Texas 500 brought out what the "boys, have at it" philosophy is really about. However, it was who brought it out that is the big talk.

When Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton tangled in turn two at Texas, everyone knew something didn't seem right. Both drivers were well respected and going in had no prior incidents to spark such an incident. Even the wreck itself seemed very strange.

It's not the first time we've seen drivers collide under caution, but this incident is intriguing and confusing at the same time.

How can the wreck be classified?

The incident between the two started in the fourth turn, when Gordon went for a pass and Burton cut him off, and it just so happened to be the same lap on which Martin Truex, Jr. wrecked for the third time.

Gordon showed his displeasure, and according to Burton, he was "pulling up next to [Gordon] to acknowledge him." In other words, Burton was going to tell Gordon he was right.

In Burton's view, the sun got in his eyes and he drove into Gordon's bumper, ultimately sending both of them into the wall.

After that, the real action began.

No one can blame Gordon for being angry. At the same time, no one ever imagined we'd see what happened next.

We all expected to see the two drivers have some sort of verbal argument over what happened, but that never truly happened. Instead, everyone saw Gordon simply let his emotions do the talking. Pushing, shoving and even a few punches were what everyone got to witness.

The nearly 160,000 fans in attendance roared at what they had just witnessed. Thoughts of hearing the call from the 1979 Daytona 500 went through every fan's head in an instant.

"And there's a fight, there's a fight...they're angry. They know they have lost."

Maybe the last sentence from Squier didn't apply as well here, but it sure brought back the heyday of NASCAR.

What makes this incident so unique is it came from the most unexpected of drivers. Both Gordon and Burton have experience in confrontations, but never with each other. Gordon has one incident of physicality when he shoved Matt Kenseth at Bristol, but mostly the two drivers settle on-track incidents verbally rather than physically.

If you watch the video closely, Burton puts his hands up hoping to stop Gordon in his tracks and avoid any physicality.

As we all saw, Gordon would stop at nothing to get a piece of Burton. It was almost appropriate that Gordon's uniform has flames on it because he was certainly fired up.

By race's end, the fact that Denny Hamlin took the win and the points lead was not the hot topic. Even Kyle Busch's moment of telling a NASCAR official, "you're number one," simply couldn't compare to the fight.

NASCAR hasn't seen this kind of incident in years. Emotions are surely part of racing, and confrontations on pit road or the garage are normal.

This was not.

It could be described as a perfect storm. You have two guys that have not won in a long while—two that are among the most respected drivers in the garage.

The two drivers you least expect to get into a fight with any driver, much less with each other, got into it on the track. It was the most unexpected fight NASCAR has probably ever seen, but it brought so much attention to the sport.

NASCAR got a boost in one of the most unexpected ways on Sunday. "Have at it boys" has officially returned.

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