Jeff Squared: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon Feud Surprising, Though Not Surprising
The AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway contained a lot of surprising events that left fans with their jaws dropping to the floor over some of the events they saw.
Some were surprised by Kyle Busch’s obscene gesture to the official, however Busch has been known for temper issues so in the end it was nothing new.
Some were surprised by the No. 24/48 crew swap, however it was a move that Richard Childress had pulled earlier in the Chase and it was something that was needed.
Though what still has some fans jaws dropping is the fight that happened under a lap 191 caution between two of the sports’ highest respected drivers – Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon.
Burton is known for being the mayor of the garage, having the voice of reason and being able to represent the drivers’ views in general.
Gordon is known for being the professional who became NASCAR’s first young-gun star that seemed polished. As he’s grown to be a more mature driver, he’s taking a role like Burton’s in having a professional representation of the sport.
Though following the events of what happened, it looked like both of their roles within the sport had fallen apart.
Under a caution for Martin Truex Jr. wrecking, Jeff Burton made contact with Jeff Gordon, causing them both to wreck.
“That sucker killed it," Gordon said after the contact on the radio. "What the hell? He’s the one being a dumb###.’’
Gordon was angry about the whole event and proceeded to get out of his car and throws some punches at Burton.
For Gordon, the entire trickle of events led back to the previous green flag lap before the caution.
"He went wide going into turn three, I went underneath him," Gordon said after the incident. "There were three car lengths between us and he came right down to me and got into me.
"Under caution, I went up to him to tell him what I thought; I never even touched him. He just drove into my right rear and put me into the wall under caution. Out of all the people, I never would have thought that Jeff Burton would do something like that. I had a lot of respect for him and now I've lost a lot of respect.
"I was walking toward him, and I started going through all the scenarios in my mind. 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. I like Jeff. Usually he's a guy that's very rational and I respect his opinion. He apologized. It's over."
Burton said he didn't mean to get into Gordon, as he wanted to tell him he was right to be mad.
"Well, we came off turn four and he drove underneath me and when he drove underneath me, I should've let him go," Burton said. "He pulled up next to me to tell me he was upset with me. 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."
Burton also said that he's not mad at Gordon for wanting to say a few words.
"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."
Burton also said later in the week, “I can assure everybody that there is no way that I would turn somebody driver-side first into the wall. That's not just how I am.”
So accidental contact led to these two drivers boiling over their limits, though it’s not the first time.
A couple weeks earlier at Martinsville, each of the drivers got into their own little tussles with separate drivers. Jeff Gordon had issues with Kurt Busch while Jeff Burton had issue with his Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick.
Gordon vs. Busch
On lap 385, Gordon made slight contact with Busch as he passed him off of turn four. Busch followed this up by turning Gordon into the frontstretch wall.
"I didn't mean to get into him that hard,” Busch said. “But over the years with Gordon here, back in the 97 car (which Busch drove for Roush Racing), wrecking the 2 car, whether you're a Kurt fan or an ex-Rusty (Wallace) fan—he's wrecked the 2 car a lot here."
Busch has been known to display his temper at times as through a feud with Jimmy Spencer, so Gordon knew it was coming.
"I said it here, more than once, that I probably made the move a little late,” Gordon said. “I was going to get into him. It wasn't much. But I gave him enough of a reason that, whatever things he has from past history or whatever thoughts he has in there, it sparked it, you know? At that point, he was determined to wreck us."
The feud does not look like to be simmering over throughout the week. As of Tuesday, Busch and Gordon haven’t talked, as according to Gordon.
"There have not been any conversations with Kurt, and I doubt that there will be," he said on NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody. "The way I look at it, I race everybody the way they race me. I'm smart enough to know who I'm racing, and I look at every crash I've ever been in and ask what I could have done different. I dove in under him a little late and figured his spotter would see that I was there. I gave him a reason to lose his temper and wreck me, and I blame myself for that."
This is not the first incident between them either, as Gordon wrecked Busch earlier this year at Infineon Raceway.
Beyond the incident with Busch, Gordon has also had issues with teammate Jimmie Johnson this year (Texas) and had issues in recent years with Matt Kenseth.
Harvick vs. Burton
With approximately 140 laps to go, teammates Harvick and Burton exchanged some thoughts under caution about Harvick’s displeasure on how Burton raced him.
“We were just racing.” Harvick said after the race, as according to the Roanoke Times. Burton, however, had a different take on the incident.
"I don't understand what he is mad at,'' Burton said.”I think he is just wound up and racing for a championship. I can assure you I didn't do anything wrong and I would do it again a thousand times. Because if what I did was wrong, then I will just quit racing.
"There will come a point when he realizes that everybody in the world is not against him. And every time it's a conflict he is involved. And you would think over the amount of years that he has done it, that he would get the hint that he is always in the middle of it and maybe sometimes if he just backed up a little bit and caught his breath, he would be OK. I'm not out to harm him. I am a teammate of his and I am trying to help him and there comes a point where he needs to just catch his breath and realize that it's my race track too.''
Beyond his own teammate, Burton also had a feud with Kyle Busch in June.
A lot of people are coming to the conclusion that both Burton and Gordon are getting themselves into fights due to the lack of success as of recent. Neither has found victory lane as much as they feel they should have and could it be cutting their tempers short?
Though also, as they grow older and have more experience, are they falling into the role of the veteran who goes out to teach the kids how it’s done? Is that what is getting them into some of these messes?
Either way, for now, this particular incident between these two is over.
"Jeff and I have spoken,” Burton said according to NASCAR.com. “We had a great conversation. We ended up laughing a little bit about some of the things that were said and some of the things that were done. And Jeff and I are moving forward.
"I believe that he knows that we both had frustrating years. And there's no way that the frustration that the both of us -- and I don't want to bad talk about Jeff, let me be clear about that -- but the two of us collectively, the frustrations we had didn't play a role in all of that. For the part that I played in it, and I played the largest part in it, because I was the car that was second in line and the guy that was first in line got wrecked. So I had to take the ultimate responsibility for that."