When tempers flare and NASCAR drivers get out of their stock cars to give each other a piece of their mind, sometimes a heated conversation can turn to pushing and shoving or even blows in seconds. Once the dust settles and the drivers have cooled off, it’s up to the sport’s sanctioning body to dish out whatever punishment they see fit, ranging from fines to point deductions to probations to even suspensions.
Now, NASCAR doesn’t really seem to have any hard-and-fast rules for levying punishments against beefing drivers. Sometimes, a scrap won’t warrant more than a stern talking-to from NASCAR officials. Other times, a pit box-clearing melee can result in harsh action being taken against drivers and pit crew members.
Here, we’ll look at six NASCAR fights and the punishments that resulted from them, and four rows that went unpunished.
10 NASCAR Fights and Their Consequences
Denny Hamlin vs. Joey Logano ? Suspension
Drivers tend to get the most heated during the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. After all, that’s when the most is on the line regarding the drivers’ standings. So, tensions ran high after Denny Hamlin pushed Joey Logano’s car into the wall at the 2019 Round of 8 opener at Martinsville.
It started with Denny trying to explain himself on pit road, but it took a little shove from Joey for all hell to break loose.
When it was all said and done, NASCAR officials suspended Team Penske crew member Dave Nichols Jr. for one race after grabbing Hamlin from behind and throwing him to the ground. Hey, we’re all for trying to break up a fight, but that was just a little too far.
Daniel Suarez vs. Michael McDowell ? No Punishment
Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell aren’t two names that come up during Cup Series coverage. In March 2019, the two drivers found themselves making headlines for this pit road dust-up.
During qualifying at ISM Raceway’s pit road, a scuffle started with Suarez straight-up throwing McDowell to the ground, which you definitely don’t see in most NASCAR scraps. Then, you had Suarez being pinned to a car by his neck by McDowell’s crew chief. It was all-out mayhem.
After the heated confrontation, Suarez and McDowell met with NASCAR officials to ensure they wouldn’t purposely try to wreck each other during the Cup race, but no punishments were levied.
Joey Logano vs. Kyle Busch ? No Punishment
After some last-lap contact from Joey Logano sent Kyle “Rowdy” Busch sliding into pit lane at the 2017 Kobalt 400, Busch was pretty damn pissed.
Rowdy wasted no time getting rowdy, coming right at Logano after the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race and taking a swing at him. In the ensuing chaos, Busch ended up taking some damage as well. We’re guessing he was still so wound up; he didn’t feel that until the next day.
Busch avoided suspension, but he also escaped without any fines or point deductions.
“NASCAR was built on the racing that took place on the final lap by two drivers battling for position,” said NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell, who was Executive Vice President. “The emotions of our athletes run high, and Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are two of the most passionate and competitive drivers in the sport.”
Sam Mayer vs. Ty Gibbs ? No Punishment (Sort Of)
Sam Mayer and Ty Gibbs got after it in pit road after a tightly raced second overtime finish at the April 8th NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Gibbs was gunning for first place, collided with Mayer, and you know how the rest goes.
Now, neither driver was penalized as a direct result of the fistfight (which resulted in a NASCAR official getting injured), but Gibbs was fined $15,000 for ramming Mayer’s car on pit road.
Jeff Gordon vs. Brad Keselowski ? Fines, Probations, and Suspensions
Maybe it had something to do with the sweltering temperatures in the Lonestar State. Still, the Texas Motor Speedway brawl between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski in 2014 got HEATED like nothing else.
While things were simmering between the two drivers to start, they came to a boiling point when Kevin Harvick came out of nowhere and shoved Keselowski right into Gordon. Then all hell broke loose. The pit road scuffle that ensued ended in Keselowski and Gordon walking away with cuts on their faces.
No drivers were directly punished, but Jeff Gordon’s mechanic Dwayne Doucette and his engine tuner Jason Ingle were suspended for six points races and fined $25,000. Gordon crew member Dean Mozingo, a hauler driver, and mechanic, was suspended for three races and fined $10,000. Gordon’s crew chief Alan Gustafson was fined $50,000 and placed on six-race probation.
Now, somehow, Kasey Kahne’s crew was also involved in the fight, as Kahne’s rear tire changer Jeremy Fuller got hit with the same punishment as Doucette and Ingle, while Kahne’s crew chief Kenny Francis shared Gustafson’s fate.
Tony Stewart vs. Joey Logano ? No Punishment
Tony Stewart’s scuffle with Joey Logano at the end of the 2013 Auto Club 400 is one of Stewart’s more memorable on-track outbursts.
Both drivers exchanged harsh words and a few shoves until their respective pit crew members separated them. Logano threw a water bottle at Stewart during their post-race altercation, prompting him to call the NASCAR driver “a little girl.” Classic Tony.
Now, neither driver faced any disciplinary action following the altercation. While some fans argued that there should’ve been some sort of punishment handed down, John Darby, who was the Sprint Cup Series director, defended the decision to “let the boys play,” so to speak.
“A couple of drivers at the end of the race arguing a little bit doesn’t create a foul in our world today,” Darby said. “The crews did a great job of managing their drivers to make sure it didn’t cross the line to where there was physical violence or anything like that. That’s what you’d hope for.”
Jeff Gordon vs. Clint Bowyer ? Fines, Points Docked, and Probations
These days, Jeff Gordon is a top executive for Hendrick Motorsports. But, as you’ve already seen, the Fox Sports broadcaster’s behavior on the race track was not always executive-like. From back in 2012 at Phoenix Raceway, Gordon may not have been the aggressor after the race, but Clint Bowyer didn’t just come full-speed sprinting at him WWE-style for no reason.
Here’s a Cliff Notes version of what led to the fight: Bowyer bumped into Gordon on the track. Gordon retaliated and purposely wrecked Bowyer. Bowyer wasn’t happy about it. Commence a pit crew brawl of epic proportions.
Despite Gordon’s extremely reckless move, he avoided suspension but was fined $100,000 and docked 25 points. He was also placed on probation through December 31 of that year, while Rick Hendrick was docked 25 car owner points, and crew chief Alan Gustafson was placed on probation.
Kevin Harvick vs. Kyle Busch ? Fines and Probations
Sure, this wasn’t a full-on knock-down-drag-out type deal, but Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch’s 2011 run-in at Darlington was different from most NASCAR fights. It simply consisted of Harvick reaching into Busch’s car and smacking him in the face. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out thing, but it definitely got the point across.
NASCAR later fined Busch and Harvick $25,000 apiece and put both drivers on probation for all NASCAR races through June 15 of that year.
Matt Kenseth vs. Brad Keselowski ? Fines and Probations
Everyone was mad at each other after the 2014 Bank of America 500.
First off, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin got into it during the cool-down lap. Then, Keselowski contacted Matt Kenseth on pit road while Matt had his seatbelt unbuckled. Keselowski also inadvertently struck Tony Stewart’s car, and Stewart responded by backing into Keselowski.
Then, moving to the garage area, Hamlin confronted Keselowski by throwing a towel at him before NASCAR officials and crew members moved Hamlin to the team trailer. Finally, the real fight came when Kenseth attacked Keselowski from behind as he walked to his hauler. Talk about a series of insane events. But, hey, that’s NASCAR for you.
In the end, Keselowski was fined $50,000 and placed on a four-race probation, while Stewart was fined $25,000 and also hit with a four-race probation penalty.
Cale Yarborough vs. The Allison Brothers ? Fines and Probations
The 1979 Daytona 500. The race that basically put NASCAR on the map. And Richard Petty’s win had very little to do with it going down in NASCAR history. Before “The King” even had time for a Victory Lane celebration, Cale Yarborough fought with Bobby and Donnie Allison, following a last-lap wreck that took Cale and Donnie out of the race.
Both Allison brothers and Yarborough were fined $56,000 each, while Donnie Allison was placed on a six-month probation.
This post was originally published on August 2, 2018.