By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Road rage consumed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell as fists flew during Busch Pole Qualifying. The two drivers were angry with each other after an incident on track at ISM Raceway.
After the incident, Suarez confronted McDowell on pit road. McDowell shoved Suarez before grabbing him by the throat. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver quickly turned the tables, throwing the Front Row Motorsports driver to the ground before the crews intervened.
In the first round of qualifying for the TicketGuardian 500, many drivers elected to wait out the 10-minute session after a wreck at the end of Xfinity practice left the dogleg covered in speedy dry.
McDowell was one of the first to make his lap in his No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford Mustang. When Suarez attempted to make his hot lap in the No. 41 Ruckus Ford Mustang, he caught the slowing McDowell.
Suarez viewed the incident as a lack of respect on McDowell.
“As a race car driver you always have respect for the other drivers, especially here in Phoenix when we all know that the second lap is a good one. Your first one you’re just putting temperature on everything. I was opening my second lap and he was in my way in corner one and two.
“I assumed he was gonna get out of my way in corner three and four and he didn’t. He was in my way for the entire second lap and then he messed up my opening for the third lap, so he pretty much messed up the whole qualifying.”
McDowell blamed the incident on the chaotic session itself.
“It was kind of chaotic out there. We all waited until the very last second to go out trying to do the best track you can and so when you do that you’re gonna have traffic with people finishing their lap and starting their lap. I understand while Daniel is upset. I’d be upset too.
“I definitely messed up his lap, but then he tried to crash us. When he came over I wasn’t that excited about him trying to crash us on the race track. I made a mistake, an honest mistake, but trying to crash somebody is a different story. That’s all. It’s just racing.”
McDowell and Suarez ended up 27th and 28th on the speed charts respectively. The duo will share a truck during the pre-race driver intros on Sunday.
This was the second time this season that McDowell hasn’t adhered to the ‘One Ford’ mantra. In the Daytona 500, he didn’t assist Joey Logano, later saying that he isn’t paid to push his competition to the win.