Gordon Goes Down Swinging
By Nick Bromberg | Staff Writer
Fort Worth, Texas – It had nothing on the fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie and Bobby Allison in the 1979 Daytona 500, but by modern NASCAR standards, this was a slobberknocker.
Jeff Gordon confronted Jeff Burton after the two got together during Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon attempted to throw a punch, but safety workers got between the two drivers after Gordon made his initial lunge toward Burton, but Gordon’s message was loud and clear. He was not happy with what happened.
“I was walking toward him going through all the scenarios in my mind,” Gordon said. “I thought I did the least amount that I wanted to do. I wanted to show how upset I was. I wanted to do more than that. I held back. I’m just still in disbelief. I didn’t want to be in the ambulance with him. We got in there. I like Jeff. He’s a guy who’s usually very rational. I respect his opinion. He apologized. Said it was his fault. Whatever. It’s over.”
What started it was contact between the two drivers on the previous lap.
“I’ll walk you right through it,” Gordon said. “He went wide into (Turn) 3. Four car widths between us, he drove from wall all the way down to the second groove up. I didn’t understand why. I drove up next to him. I didn’t even touch him. I guess he was really frustrated with the way car was handling or something.”
When the two slowed down in turns 1 and 2 for a crash at the other end of the racetrack involving Martin Truex Jr., Gordon pulled up alongside Burton to show his displeasure, and Burton did the same to confirm that yes, Gordon had every right to be unhappy with him.
“We came off Turn 4, it’s really hard to see of Turrn 4, he drove underneath me,” Burton said. “I should have let him go, and I didn’t. The caution came out. He drove up next to me to tell me he was upset at me. Then I drove up next to him to acknowledge him and say he was right.”
But Burton’s acknowledgement turned into disaster for both drivers.
“I turned left, he turned left,” Burton said. “We hung up and off we went. I honestly don’t know what happened. One hundred percent my fault. Once we got together. I didn’t mean to hit him. I meant to pull up and tell him he was right for being upset and I should have let him go. Because you can’t see and don’t need to be side by side. I don’t blame him for being mad. I’d have been mad, too.
“I don’t blame him. He didn’t do anything he shouldn’t have done. He was upset and should have been. I wrecked him under caution, and I didn’t mean to wreck him under caution.”
The damage from Burton’s front bumper hooking Gordon’s rear one was terminal for Gordon and also mangled Burton’s car to the point that when he got back out on the track, the crew had to spray-paint a 31 on the right side of the car.3 Comments