UPDATED — Give your opinion: What should NASCAR’s response be to Sunday’s Texas takedown?


This just in: Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are all thinking about driving in NASCAR.

They certainly wouldn’t be short of rivals, that’s for sure.

Ok, that may not exactly be true, but given how things have unfolded over the last few weeks as the Chase for the Sprint Cup has hit a fever pitch, what we’re seeing is an end result that has evolved into nothing short of a heavyweight fight – both literally and figuratively.

But in the whole big scheme of things, is that good or bad?

About 100,000 fans went to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday to see a Sprint Cup race. But instead of playing up Jimmie Johnson’s win, what many of those same fans will likely be talking about for the next several days is not the race, but the post-race fight between two of the sport’s own heavyweights, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon.

Both drivers emerged from a post-race brawl – which included more than a dozen undercard bouts among crew members at the same time – with matching fat lips.

Keselowski appeared to get the worst of the battle, with blood streaming not only out of his mouth but also getting waylaid on his forehead, as well.

And we had to laugh that while Gordon and Keselowski were talking smack to each other before the fists began flying, Kevin Harvick got into the mix and pushed Keselowski from behind.

Ding-ding-ding, the battle began. Harvick, meanwhile, smartly backed out of the ensuing mess and left his pretty face unscathed – which is more than Keselowski and Gordon can say.

Sure, the battle between those two drivers was great theater and drama, and will definitely have fans talking for quite some time, but is this REALLY how NASCAR wants its marquee event to play out?

Yes, it will draw attention from around the globe, but at what cost? Is it a cost that NASCAR wants to pay?

If we saw constant fistfights and more on and off the field during the NFL playoffs, would commissioner Roger Goodell sit idly by and let more of the same occur?

For with every viewer that tunes into Sunday’s race at Phoenix or the season finale at Homestead to watch for more fisticuffs, will NASCAR emerge looking like a genius, or will it ultimately become the laughingstock of pro sports?

Not only is the championship a high-stakes fight, the post-race battles we’ve seen in recent weeks (both physical and verbal) between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth, Kenseth and Harvick and now Keselowski and Gordon have done exactly what NASCAR had hoped for, albeit maybe not necessarily the way the sanctioning body intended.

Yes, fans have gotten more engaged and excited, while non-NASCAR fans are also taking the bait and being drawn in, all with the goal of driving up TV ratings and at-track attendance for the two remaining races.

We received proof of that earlier Sunday when Phoenix International Raceway officials announced that next Sunday’s next-to-last Chase race is sold out. Seats are still available on the hill that overlooks PIR, but if you want the sheer comfort of a seat inside the track, you’re out of luck.

And from what we hear, tickets for the remaining open seats for the season finale at Homestead in two weeks were already selling briskly.

But with what happened at Texas, watch those same Homestead ticket sales jump dramatically between now and the green flag two weeks from now.

Anybody who is anyone will want to be at Homestead, especially if what we’ve seen the last few weeks – including Sunday – continues at Phoenix and potentially at Homestead.

Frankly, I’m not going to be surprised to see that race a total sellout, as well. Rather, I’ll be surprised if it is not a completely sellout.

But still we go back to what will all this fighting do for NASCAR’s reputation.

If this were the NFL or NBA or Major League Baseball, a fight like what we saw at Texas would likely result be dealt in almost identical fashion by governing officials in any of those leagues: resulting in significant fines and penalties – the playoffs or its main actors in it be damned.

Will Brian France or Mike Helton decide that NASCAR’s reputation and integrity are more important than a one- or two-race spike in TV ratings and attendance?

Or will “Boys have at it” ultimately overrule common sense?

When Gordon went after Clint Bowyer both on and off the racetrack in the Chase race at Phoenix two years ago, he wound up being fined $100,000 and 25 points. Will we see something similar in light of the Texas takedown?

You won’t get an argument from me that fans like beating and banging on the racetrack. It’s part of the sport’s legacy over the last 65 years.

But when that beating and banging carries over to pit road after the checkered flag, when does NASCAR decide too much is enough?

No matter what NASCAR officials ultimately decide to do about all the beating and banging that’s going on off the track, in the court of public opinion, will they ultimately be judged by what they do or what they don’t do?

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).