Two of the least likely NASCAR drivers to have a physical confrontation did just that on Sunday afternoon, as Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton fought at Texas Motor Speedway after a mid-race wreck.
Burton had apparently crowded Gordon in Turn 4 just prior to a caution coming out, and Gordon took exception to the Richard Childress Racing driver's action, pulling his No. 24 car alongside the No. 31 to show his displeasure.
But when Burton responded by turning Gordon straight into the wall – under caution – a livid Gordon climbed out of his car and stormed down the backstretch to confront Burton.
Upon reaching the No. 31 car, Gordon violently shoved Burton and the two exchanged pushes and angry words – but no punches – before NASCAR officials intervened.
"Of all the people out there, I never thought that would happen with Jeff Burton," Gordon told ESPN afterward. "I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him, but I certainly lost a lot of respect today."
Gordon said he wanted to do more than just shove Burton, but got himself under control a little bit as he made the long walk from the wreckage of his No. 24 car to the site of where Burton's car was parked.
"I was walking toward him, and I started going through all the scenarios in my mind," Gordon said. "Thankfully, I had a long walk down there to him, because I did about the least amount I wanted to do.
"I wanted to show him how upset I was, but I wanted to do a whole lot more than that. I held back. I'm just still in disbelief."
Burton, respected as one of the classiest drivers off the track, took full responsibility for the wreck and apologized for the incident.
"He pulled up next to me to tell me he was upset with me," Burton told ESPN, recounting how the incident occurred. "Then I went to pull up next to him to acknowledge him, to say he was right. I turned left, and he was turning left, and we just hung up. And when we hung up, off we went.
"I honestly don't know what happened. One hundred percent, it was my fault. It was definitely my fault. We got together, I couldn't get off of him. I didn't mean to hit him, I meant to pull up next to him and tell him he was right."
Because he believed it was his fault, Burton didn't blame Gordon for shoving him.
"I knew he was going to be mad, and I don't blame him for being mad," Burton said. "He didn't do anything he shouldn't have done. He was upset, and he should have been upset. I wrecked him under caution – I didn't mean to wreck him, but I wrecked him under caution – and he meant to tell me he was upset.
"That's OK. I don't have a bit of problem with what he did. He was mad, and he should have been mad."
The drivers climbed into the same ambulance together after exchanging words and spoke more about the incident on the way to the infield care center.
"I like Jeff – he's a guy that's usually very rational and I respect his opinion," Gordon said. "He apologized and said it was his fault and said he didn't mean to do it. Whatever. It's over."
Said Burton: "We talked. He's still upset, and I don't blame him. He understands what happened more now."