I get it: People like drama. And there was plenty of it on display Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. But I don't think it will help NASCAR in the long run.
Jeff Gordon's retaliation against Clint Bowyer was flat wrong and should not have been tolerated. It was premeditated, dangerous and undeniably impacted the championship picture by eliminating Bowyer from contention.
NASCAR's 25-point penalty and $100,000 fine was hefty by today's standards but Gordon -- like Kyle Busch last year in Texas after his assault of Ron Hornaday in a Camping World Truck Series race -- should have been parked. "Boys Have at It" was intended to imply good, hard racing not paybacks and using cars as weapons. But NASCAR painted itself into a corner two years ago when it basically did nothing in response to Carl Edwards flipping Brad Keselowski at Atlanta.
The subsequent fight between pit crews in the garage area might have given NASCAR a short stint in the national spotlight but for the wrong reasons. Rather than talking about a championship going down to the wire or a thrilling photo finish, media outlets only reinforced in many minds the already tired stereotype of "Good Ol' Boys" and rednecks fighting and raising hell.
All of this won't add up to anything more than NASCAR being a quick blip on the radar in the national consciousness. There won't be a significant increase in attendance or viewership for this week's Homestead season finale because of the Phoenix shenanigans. What NASCAR needs to satisfy its current fan base as well as to attract new followers is simple: good, solid, exciting competition. Not a circus side show.