FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — An angry Jeff Gordon hit Jeff Burton with a hard two-handed push after Burton sent Gordon’s car crashing into the outside wall during a caution period Sunday.
After getting out of his No. 24 car, Gordon walked from the top to the bottom of the track to confront Burton. Gordon shoved Burton, then took some swings before they were separated by two NASCAR safety officials.
“Thankfully, I had a long walk to him down the backstretch because I did about the least amount I was going to. I wanted to do a whole lot more to him,” Gordon said. “You know, I like Jeff, he’s a guy that’s usually very rational and I respect his opinion and he apologized, said it was his fault, said he didn’t mean to do it, and whatever. It’s over.”
The drivers then rode together in ambulance to the infield-care center.
“I didn’t want to be in the ambulance with him,” Gordon said. “I’ll tell you that.”
Burton took full responsibility for the accident — “100 percent, it was my fault,” he said — and had no problem with what Gordon did.
“I don’t blame him for being mad. I would have been mad too,” Burton said.
Right before the caution came out for another problem on the track, Burton said he came down from a higher groove in Turn 4 and that Gordon had to drive under him. It was difficult to see on that part of the track because of the setting sun.
When a caution then came out for more problems on Martin Truex Jr.’s car, Gordon initially drove up beside Burton and then drove away.
Burton said he was then trying to catch up with Gordon to acknowledge his mistake. But as he came up from behind in Turn 2, their cars hit and crashed.
“Honestly, I don’t know what happened,” Burton said. “I didn’t mean to wreck him. … I don’t have a bit of a problem with what he did. We talked. He’s still upset. I don’t blame him.”
Gordon said he never expected anything like that to happen between he and Burton.
“I lost a lot of respect for him,” Gordon said.
With Gordon out of the race, the Hendrick team moved Gordon’s pit crew to the No. 48 of points leader Jimmie Johnson, who had lost spots on the track because of several slow stops.