These days, Jeff Gordon has turned in the racing suit for a suit and tie, as the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is now the Vice Chairman for Hendrick Motorsports. In his new gig, he's no doubt the consummate professional, but when Gordon was competing in NASCAR's highest level as a driver, he wasn't necessarily always calm, cool and collected.
Throughout his 25 years in the sport, the "Rainbow Warrior" had a number of heated rivalries and feuds, and sometimes they resulted in outbursts on the track, both verbal and physical. Here, we'll look at three times that some intense racing on the track led to Jeff Gordon going ballistic over his stock car's radio.
Jeff Gordon vs. Carl Edwards
Our first greatest hit (or worst hit?) of Jeff Gordon raging over the radio comes during the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway back in 2013. The incident went down on lap 202, when Carl Edwards, driving the No. 99 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, was racing Gordon a little too close for comfort. At least, according to Gordon himself.
"Ask the f***ing 99 what his problem is!" Gordon initially quips over his radio, before dropping a couple more frustrated F-bombs. Gordon ultimately placed sixth in the race, while Edwards finished 18th. Gordon was still adamant in talking to Edwards afterwards, but by the end of their discussion, the two drivers just agreed to disagree.
"I have a problem with a guy when I apologize for sliding him and then he proceeds to tell me all the things I did wrong in the race," Gordon said in the post-race interview. "I didn't hear him apologizing for any of the things he did. I tried to have a regular conversation and that didn't seem to be possible with him."
Edwards later offered his own two cents on the dust-up.
"We were racing really early and he just slides on me and I thought it was really out of character for him," Edwards said. "I didn't understand what was going on there, so I did everything I could to not wreck us both. So naturally the next time we were around each other I raced him as hard as I could, and then going down the back straightaway I thought he just ran into my door and it kind of tore up our right side.
"He thought I ran into him, so I think it was a case where both of us were mad at each other. He wasn't very happy with our conversation, but at the end of the day I felt like he was the aggressor and didn't give me much of an opportunity to drive my race car that first time."
It's probably best that the two drivers just walked away from their post-race conversation, because it very well could have ended in blows.
Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The 2012 Pure Michigan 400 actually wasn't all that pure, at least if you look at the language that Jeff Gordon directed at Dale Earnhardt Jr. about midway through the race. Junior cut in front of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, which drew the ire of Gordon. He thought the move was reckless, and didn't hold his feelings back over his team's radio.
"Tell the f***ing 88 he can thank me later for not wrecking his ass," Gordon said. "That was f***ing stupid."
As it turns out, Earnhardt was actually shocked that Gordon even brought up the idea of wrecking him for his move.
"Wrecked me?!" Earnhardt yelled over his team's radio. "He was slower than me. I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry if I did something."
"Man, you didn't do anything," team owner Rick Hendrick responded. "Just drive that thing to the front."
Earnhardt continued to race hard, ultimately finishing fourth, while Gordon placed 28th due to an engine failure. In the post-race interview, Gordon elaborated a little bit about his beef with Earnhardt.
"He took me four-wide, then slid up in front of me in Turn 2," Gordon said. "I had to check up and it could have wrecked all of us. It wasn't the smartest thing to do, especially to a teammate. But he chose to do it and it all worked out. I don't care who does it, I'm going to show my displeasure if they do something like that."
Today, Gordon and Earnhardt are close friends. But there's no denying they had it out for each other on more than one occasion back in the day.
Jeff Gordon vs. Clint Bowyer
What we have here is a radio outburst that escalated into something far, far more serious when it was all said and done. Towards the end of the 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Clint Bowyer bumped Gordon, which brought out his enraged side like nothing else.
"F*** 15! I'm a f*** his ass up!" Gordon spewed over the radio. And he wasn't kidding.
Despite Bowyer being shocked over Gordon's rage and claiming that he barely touched him, Gordon tracked Bowyer down with two laps to go and purposely wrecked him. Yeah, you don't do that if you're not gunning for a post-race fight. Gordon's retaliation eventually led to a massive scuffle between the two teams. One look on Bowyer's face as he got out of his stock car, and you can tell that he was out for blood. The ensuing skirmish -- which went down during the race, by the way -- resulted in NASCAR red flagging the race to get everything sorted out.
Obviously, this escalated the bad blood between Bowyer and Gordon significantly, but they have since cleared things up. In fact, back in 2021, the retired racers shared a couple drinks and got to the bottom of that infamous day in Phoenix. As Gordon tells it, he had problems with the way that Bowyer had been racing him pretty much all season, and his reaction at Phoenix was just his tipping point. Does that excuse him for wrecking another driver on purpose? Of course not. But, hey, at least nobody got hurt, and both Clint and Jeff have a crazy story to tell.
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