Not all the action was confined to the track Saturday night. An action packed NASCAR Sprint Cup series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway was a typical short track battle with the winner decided in the final laps. Getting to that point however meant fenders were bent, cars were spun and feeling were hurt.
In the final few laps Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski battled for the lead with Kenseth blocking Keselowski on the high side. While those two dueled, Joey Logano was able to slide by on the inside and power his way to victory. Keselowski held on to finish fourth, Kenseth fifth.
On the cool down lap, Keselowski’s anger was obvious as he ran his Ford into the Toyota of Kenseth.
“Yeah it was a wild finish,” Keselowski said. “It just came down to really a four way battle between the 2, the 20 (Kenseth), the 24 (Gordon) and 22 (Logano) and we had a great car for the short runs and we got up there challenging for the lead. The 20 car ran me off the racetrack so I made sure to give him a bump and that was what Joey needed to win the race.”
Kenseth defended his late race moves.
“I had to drive in there and try to give him (Brad Keselowski) the slide job,” Kenseth said. “I was trying to watch both lanes and I was trying to win the race. I think that’s what all five of us were trying to do up there.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was swept up in the cool down lap contact.
“The No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) was mad at the No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) and he slammed on brakes after the checkered,” Earnhardt said. “The No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) ran into the No. 20 and I ran into the No. 20 and I don’t know what that was all about. You know, get over it.”
On pit lane after parking, Keselowski walked to Kenseth’s car and pointed at him. He then turned around and walked away ripping off his driving gloves and throwing them.
“Obviously, I could have gave him a little more room,” Kenseth said “But he had a lane all the way to the straightaway there and just racing hard.”
The boiling emotions weren’t confined to the leaders on pit road. Behind the Kenseth and Keselowski incident drivers Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose were also confronting each other. What happened on the track still isn’t clear, Ambrose finished 18th, Mears 19th, but the two drivers could be seen in an angry confrontation near the team haulers. Mears appeared to shove Ambrose then began pushing him. Ambrose reacted by throwing a punch that connected with Mears’ face. Crewmembers from Ambrose’s Richard Petty Motorsports team and Mears’ Germain Racing team quickly stepped in and separated the two.
NASCAR officials later said they would review the incident this week.
“Looking at the video it doesn’t seem to be much,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “We’ll take our time Monday and Tuesday and look at it some more…Sometimes there’s things out there for us to look at that we don’t have available right now, so to make any statement or call on it right now would be a waste of everybody’s time.”
“It was good hard racing tonight,” Pemberton said. “Probably some of the best racing we’ve seen at Richmond. A lot went into it, a lot of good lead changes and people were being aggressive and that’s what people like to see, good hard racing.”
Both drivers left the track without further comment although Mears did make a mention of the incident on Twitter later.
“Had a good car tonight,” he tweeted. “Proud of the @GEICORacing team. Interesting end to the night. #13”