After last weekend’s AAA Texas 500, all eyes have been watching Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon. After a wreck took both out of contention on lap 191, the two were involved in an altercation. Gordon, evidently displeased, had approached Burton and shoved him. Burton flew right back at him and got a couple punches thrown before officials stepped in to separate them.
The question everyone is asking this week is how will this affect the way they race on Sunday? Was the feud a one-race deal or will the emotions somehow carry over into this week?
Jeff Gordon says the two have talked it out.
"It went good. I'm never going to agree with what went on at Texas. And we had a good conversation and like I said on Sunday, I have a lot of respect for Jeff and always have and I may have lost some for him but I still really respect him for what he brings to the sport and what kind of race car driver he is,” said Gordon. "And I feel like we were able to laugh about it and now we can just start focusing on Phoenix and move on."
They seem to have patched things up but it has been clear in the past that these things can often be carried over. Burton doesn’t think so, however.
"I feel like it's over. Like I said earlier, it's a chance for me to learn, a chance for both of us to learn. You know, I took the brunt of the responsibility, and I'll continue to do that,” Burton replied when asked if he felt the incident between himself and Gordon was really over.
While it seems clear that both parties have moved on, the question still looms, is this kind of passion good for NASCAR? This is where they differ in opinion.
"I think what the fans want is they want to see the passion. They want to see how much it means to us out there. And when something like that happens and you show that, I think they get fired up about it,” Gordon stated.
"Yeah, they want to see some controversy in a scuffle like that. But they want to really try to sense what it's like to go through a situation like that. And when you show your emotions in that way, which from time to time I think are very good, you get those types of reactions and it draws a lot of attention and I don't think that's a bad thing."
Burton’s opinion on whether it was good for the sport was very different.
“You know the whole debate about what's good for NASCAR, what's not good for NASCAR, I don't know. I know the fans on the back straightaway thought it was cool. I could hear that, but I'm torn between what's good for NASCAR and what's not good for NASCAR.”
Conscience may have something to do with it. He went on to say, "I try to conduct myself in a way that will make me and my team and my kids proud of me,even when things aren't good, and you can certainly cross a line. I come to the race to race. I don't come to the race to be a part of the show.”
As to whether or not it really is over, that is to be decided.