Jeff Gordon said he was fed up with how Clint Bowyer has treated him this year, so he did something about it – intentionally crashed Bowyer and ended his championship hopes during Sunday's NASCAR race at Phoenix, setting off a melee in the garage.
"Thing just got escalated over the year, and I'd just had it," Gordon said. "Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. I've had it...and I got him back."
Gordon said NASCAR has "got to do what they've got to do" in regard to punishing him for the retaliation, but he didn't sound remorseful immediately after the race.
Crew chief Alan Gustafson defended his driver and said he stood behind him "100 percent."
"It's about the fifth time that he's run over us and after awhile you get really frustrated with that," Gustafson said. "... If you're going to play that way, if you're going to race that way, then you shouldn't be upset when you get it back."
But Bowyer's team owner, Michael Waltrip, was less than impressed with Gordon's actions. He said he'd "never seen anything like what Jeff Gordon did to a guy racing for a championship."
"Cowardly, chicken move by someone that has raced for championships before and knows how important every position is," Waltrip said. "They barely brushed on the back straightaway and he waits – he purposely waits – and tells everybody he's waiting and wrecks our car and our hopes for racing for a championship.
"I'm beside myself. I can't believe that he would get involved in the championship battle."
Bowyer's crew chief, Brian Pattie, said NASCAR should take strong action against Gordon.
"If they're consistent, they'll park him (for Homestead)," Pattie said. "They parked (Kyle Busch) when they retaliated (in the Truck race last season). We'll see what happens. I like to be consistent. I try to be as fair as I can, so hopefully they are, too."
On Twitter, several of Gordon's peers also condemned the move.
Great turnaround week for our FedEx team.. 1 more to go! On another note. The 24 should be parked! He took out 5 cars in that BS!— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) November 11, 2012
Wow.... That's pretty low— Elliott Sadler (@Elliott_Sadler) November 11, 2012
Also, Brad Keselowski went off about Gordon's move in his post-race press conference and said it was embarrassing and shameful.