Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer had quite the feud going in 2012. Their infamous NASCAR tango in Phoenix was far from the beginning of their rivalry. Gordon and Bowyer had traded love taps on the track, routinely messing up each other's race days, until the pressure finally boiled over. The two seasoned NASCAR stars were ready to trade blows!
It all started at the Martinsville Speedway race on April 1. Gordon's squad at Hendrick Motorsports were vying to nab their 200th victory, but they felt like Bowyer spoiled their day. Late in the 2012 season, all hell broke loose, as tensions rose to the point of no return. Clint's Toyota made contact with Jeff's Chevrolet, and Jeff's reaction made NASCAR history. Or, rather, infamy.
Back in 2021, when they were both co-workers at NASCAR on Fox, Bowyer and Gordon got together for the below video, which details the interaction between the two racers and breaks down exactly what happened from their perspectives. Thanks to the former drivers both being a little bit drunk, and some hilarious recreation acting from Larry McReynolds and Jamie McMurray, this clip is definitely a must-watch.
Though Gordon and Bowyer can't seem to agree on the timeline, Gordon still clearly held a grudge since Martinsville. When Bowyer made contact with his car in the infamous race, Gordon was ready to retaliate. He attempted to swing into Bowyer, but ended up damaging his own vehicle more than Clint's Toyota. Gordon's Chevrolet was not going to make it to the race's end. NASCAR officials flagged him to come into the pits, but Gordon refused. He wanted revenge.
Gordon wrecked Clint, taking him out of the race entirely. Once Gordon exited his vehicle, Bowyer's team immediately went after him, but to no avail. Clint raced after Gordon on foot to settle the dispute. The incident became one of the most heated moments in NASCAR's modern era. Many fans, pundits, and even fellow drivers viewed Gordon's intentional ramming of Bowyer's vehicle as a disgrace.
To make matters even worse, Gordon's actions also damaged the vehicles of other drivers. It is also easy to forget how invested both teams were in that race. The dispute was so much bigger than two racers. It affected the teams, fans, and the sport in general because of the way it was handled. Years later, the men are on better terms, but still cannot reach an agreement on the series of events that caused Jeff Gordon to lose his cool and Clint Bowyer to look for a fight.
MORE: Jeff Gordon Left His Legacy on the Brickyard 400 by Winning the Indianapolis Race in 3 Different Decades
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.