Jeff Gordon understood Brad Keselowski was going for a gap last Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway. This week at Phoenix International Raceway, he’s ready to move on leave and last week’s post-race altercation behind.
He didn’t entirely let Keselowski off the hook for his role in the dust-up, though, nor did he say Kevin Harvick didn’t play a role.
“It escalated because Brad didn’t want to face the situation,” Gordon said Friday during his media availablity at PIR. “His crew guys were in the middle of that. The thing I feel terrible about is getting my guys involved. In a face-to-face (between me and Brad) there would have been no incident. Kevin played a role, no doubt. I thought it was him, but when I saw back on video and saw he got a good chuckle, certainly it played a role.”
Gordon had no issue with Keselowski going for the move Sunday night. Gordon admitted he should have got a better restart on the green-white-checkered attempt in the second race of the three-race Eliminator Round for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“I have no issue with a guy being aggressive and making a bold move,” Gordon said. “I look at every situation and wonder if I could do a better job, even if we had won.
“I would have liked to have got a better restart. Brad did an excellent job on that restart to get that run. I spun the tires but it wasn’t terrible. But I didn’t have anyone pushing me so our line didn’t go as good. Jimmie (Johnson) is hedging to make sure Brad doesn’t take him three-wide on the inside. My focus is on getting a good run through 1-2 and do like I did to Jimmie.
“So I never realistically thought someone would take that as a realistic gap. I wouldn’t have done it. I would have known what the results would be, which is what they were.”
When asked about whether Gordon’s flat tire that resulted between the two’s contact was caused by the side skirts, Gordon responded, “It’s doesn’t help that those skirts and the whole fender is being pulled out.”
As one of the more veteran drivers on the NASCAR circuit, Gordon has been through a lot of occasions where he’s had contact. He was asked who were the greats that have rattled his cage, so to speak.
“I got wrecked a couple times by Dale Earnhardt,” he said. “The first thing he did was try to put his arm around you and say, ‘I didn’t mean to do that.’ You didn’t necessarily believe him, but it had an effect.
“Some guys you can race like that, and some you can’t. You’re not out there to make friends, but you’re definitely not out there to make enemies.”
Gordon sits fourth on the Chase grid heading into this weekend’s race at PIR as he seeks to advance through to Homestead next week.