Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Desperation brings out best, worst during NASCAR Chase

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jeff Gordon knows there could be some desperate drivers today trying to get what he already has — one of the four spots to race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in the season finale.

With Matt Kenseth starting a two-race suspension after intentionally wrecking Chase for the Championship contender Joey Logano last weekend at Martinsville, the big question with only two races before Homestead is if drivers will change their approach if racing for a win in the late laps.

"Nobody should have to tell you what happened at Martinsville was wrong," said Brad Keselowski, who has the pole for today's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. "And if somebody has to tell you, then you should have never made it this far in the sport."

Kenseth's car was damaged in a wreck with Keselowski. Later, nine laps down, Kenseth drove race-leading Logano into the wall as retaliation for a crash they had three races earlier.

"Racing is racing. Guys have wrecked each other since racing started, okay? That's not going to change," said Martin Truex, who is third in points. "Guys get mad all the time. I think that people will go about it differently now because of what happened this week, for sure. How far that goes, I'm not real sure. We'll have to wait and see."

Kurt Busch told NBC Sports on Saturday that Keselowski had intentionally wrecked Kenseth.

Last November at Texas, Keselowski was unapologetic after bumping past a leading Gordon on a restart at Lap 335, one more than the race's scheduled length. Keselowski pushed through a gap and made contact with Gordon, who wound up 29th instead of getting a big playoff victory.

By winning at Martinsville, Gordon got to Texas already assured of racing at Nov. 22 Homestead-Miami Speedway for his fifth title before retiring.

Gordon said the goal today is a solid run. But he'd go for a win if he had a chance against another Chase contender to do it in a clean way — with one exception.

"If it is the No. 2 car (Keselowski), then that is going to be different," Gordon said.

"To just go do that to whoever I'm racing in the Chase when I feel like a little more desperate or because they were blocking me, and I didn't like that, I don't know if that is worth that," he said. "Because, in my opinion, that is going to come back to you in the next couple of weeks, possibly at Homestead."

There was no practice Saturday after overnight rains left the track too wet.

Xfinity: Brad Keselowski won the second-tier NASCAR series race at Texas, leading a race-high 62 of 200 laps and wrapping up a third consecutive owners' championship for team owner Roger Penske. The drivers' championship is undecided with two races left. Standings leader Chris Buescher finished 11th in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge and has a 24-point lead over defending champion Chase Elliott, who finished eighth.

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