JEFF GORDON is in the middle of a fight after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Wor th, Texas on Sunday. The crews of Gordon and Brad Keselowski fought after the race.

JEFF GORDON is in the middle of a fight after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Wor th, Texas on Sunday. The crews of Gordon and Brad Keselowski fought after the race.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

In the closing laps at Martinsville Speedway, Jeff Gordon could see Dale Earnhardt Jr. ahead of him with enough time to formulate a plan on how to handle his teammate if Gordon could catch him.

Earnhardt had been eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field one week earlier and was racing only for a trophy. Gordon, still eligible to win the title, wanted to win last week to grab the automatic berth into the final round of NASCAR’s playoffs.

So what would have happened?

“I would have moved him for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Gordon said after finishing second to Earnhardt at Martinsville. “Everybody who is out there racing has to weigh risk versus reward. For me, to win this race, it’s worth taking a lot of risk, even if you upset your teammate.

“I think everybody out there that’s not in the Chase understands that if that guy can win that race and put himself in Homestead for the championship, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to get the bumper or get slammed or something.”

Well, Gordon got slammed on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and he didn’t like it one bit. He confronted Brad Keselowski on pit road following the race, and an exchange of words escalated quickly — with an assist from Kevin Harvick — into a full-blown melee between the crews.

For the second time in four races, Keselowski was attacked in a post-race fracas because his aggressive driving upset someone. It happened at Charlotte last month when Denny Hamlin had to be restrained from going after him, then Matt Kenseth jumped him from behind before he was quickly pulled away.

This time, Gordon was primed for a smack-down. He called his shot on his team radio when he said he was going to beat up Keselowski, who on a restart during an overtime two-lap sprint to the finish tried to wedge his car in between Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson to grab the lead.

There were two laps left at the time and Keselowski, in a hole in the Chase standings, needed that win to grab one of the four spots in the Nov. 16 championship finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. He saw a gap and went for it, just as any driver with his season on the line should have done. Gordon himself said just seven days earlier everyone should expect Chase drivers to be aggressive.

The problem was that Keselowski and Gordon made contact, causing Gordon to spin after his tire went flat. Racing for a win and a spot at Homestead moments earlier, he wound up finishing 29th and is fourth in the eight-driver Chase field.

It’s understandable that Gordon was angry. But it’s unfair to hold Keselowski to a different standard, even if his body of work has drawn the ire of the majority of the garage.

Keselowski had as much on the line as Gordon, and it was a go-for-broke, risk versus reward moment where Keselowski let it all hang out.

“Brad Keselowski is a champion who competes to win in every race, which is what I expect of him,” team owner Roger Penske said in a statement Monday.


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