FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jimmie Johnson won his third consecutive Texas fall race Sunday, when none of the eight championship contenders were able to clinch one of the final four spots in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Johnson emerged from a frantic finish, the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish after his teammate and Chase contender Jeff Gordon spun out from the front after contact with Brad Keselowski.
While Johnson celebrated his fourth victory at Texas, an irate Gordon stopped his car on pit road right by Keselowski and confronted him. There were punches thrown in the melee, with NASCAR officials in the middle of crew members and others around the No. 2 car.
Gordon was leading on the first green-white-checkered attempt on lap 335, in a race scheduled for 334 laps, when he took the outside lane. When Gordon drifted up a bit, Keselowski pushed through the gap, and made contact that left Gordon's car with a cut tire.
"We were just racing for the win, I didn't wreck him, and just raced him hard. He left a hole. Everything you watch in racing, you leave a hole, you're supposed to go for it," said Keselowski, who appeared to be spitting blood after the post-race brawl. "I don't want to ruin anyone's day. I wanted to win the race and that was the opportunity. It just didn't come together."
Gordon said he was on older tires when "out of nowhere I got slammed by the 2." He then used an expletive in referring to Keselowski.
"The way he races, I don't know how he ever won a championship. This is why everyone is fighting with him," Gordon said. "There wasn't any conversation. You can't have a conversation with him. There's big consequences. To me, it's just a bunch of crap. The kid is just doing stuff way over his head."
It was the second time in the last four races that another driver confronted Keselowski after the checkered flag.
Johnson, who beat Chase contender Kevin Harvick by a half-second, described Texas as intense and said he was sure it was "highly entertaining." He said he couldn't wait to go back and watch the tape.
Johnson, the six-time Cup champion who was eliminated after the second round in the new Chase format, led 191 of the 341 laps.
Keselowski finished third. The next-highest Chase contender was Carl Edwards in ninth and Denny Hamlin 10th. Gordon was 29th.
Texas was the second consecutive race won by a driver already eliminated from title contention. That means at least three drivers will advance on points to get into the final four in the season finale at Homestead in two weeks.
The third round of the Chase wraps up next week in Phoenix, where Harvick won eight months ago in the second race of the season. Kenseth and Hamlin were the only drivers of the Chase contenders to finish outside the top eight in that race.