NASCAR has been missing one thing all season, and that is an installment of the "Boys Have At It" mentality. Well, if anyone wanted it, Phoenix International Raceway delivered, and came back for seconds and thirds.
Without question, two stories from today were the points, and the fight. The points took a dramatic twist when Jimmie Johnson hit the wall due to a flat tire, and had to spend over 30 laps in the garage waiting for completed repairs. He would finish 32nd at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski survived not one, but two late wrecks, or melees as they were, to finish sixth. Heading into the season finale, he now has a 20-point lead on Johnson. These two drivers are the only ones that can win the championship this season, as everyone else is mathematically eliminated.
At the same time, how can one not talk about the fight. A cut tire led to a car in the wall, that being the DuPont Chevy of Jeff Gordon. The guy who cut the tire via contact, Clint Bowyer.
Gordon was slow on the track, enough to get a black flag, but waited long enough to outright wreck Bowyer, and take out two other cars in the process. But afterward, that was when things got interesting, and heated. Gordon in the garage, helmet off, suddenly was confronted, or shoved, into his hauler by Bowyer's team.
Gordon's came by to shove them off, and the fight was on. They were separated. Meanwhile, Bowyer found out about the fight, and went from driver to track star, running through the garage to the No. 24 hauler.
It was pandemonium, and anyone can guess what can come from it.
All the while, the race winner was one that hadn't celebrated a victory in 44 races, and was rumored to already have a new deal for the 2014 season when 2013 hasn't even begun. Kevin Harvick, the driver of the Budweiser Chevy, celebrated a win that was overshadowed by chaos in the garage.
The writers were either good or bad this week, and it's now clear of whom will battle for the title. Here's where everyone stands after the insanity that was the AdvoCare 500:
Rob Tiongson (2363) Kyle Busch finished 3rd (4)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2339) Brad Keselowski finished 6th (3)
James Broomhead (2331) Kyle Busch finished 3rd (3)
Kelly Crandall (2317) Kyle Busch finished 3rd (4)
Dustin Parks (2314) Jimmie Johnson finished 32nd (2)
Ryan O'Hara (2311) Clint Bowyer finished 28th (3)
Christopher Leone (2294) Mark Martin finished 10th (4)
Billy Fellin (2286) Kyle Busch finished 3rd (5)
Patti Rodisch (2282) Kasey Kahne finished 4th (2)
Michael Hirshbein (2280) Carl Edwards finished 11th (1)
Kara Martin (2260) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 21st (3)
Misan Akuya (2238) Clint Bowyer finished 28th (1)
Next Race: The Chase will come down to just two drivers battling for a championship. In the pool, the top four are the only ones that can mathematically win their championship.
After all the drama at Phoenix, things will be extremely interesting when NASCAR makes it's final stop of the season. Will feelings between Bowyer and Gordon continue to boil over? Can Johnson somehow overcome his gap? Will Brad Keselowski finally give Roger Penske a NASCAR championship after coming so close in years past?
It all comes down to one race, 400 miles, and 267 laps of action at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Writers, in honor of this major event, your deadline for submissions has been extended. Have your submissions for the final race of the season, the Ford EcoBoost 400, submitted by FRIDAY, November 16, at 9 a.m. ET. That is a full 11 hours past the usual deadline. Happy picking.