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Panel of experts debates the hot topics in NASCAR MORE: NASCAR issues penalties for post-Texas tangle " Chase bubble " Clinching scenarios RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. In doling out punishment for last Sunday night's post-race fight on pit road, was NASCAR too harsh, not harsh enough or did the punishment fit the crimes? Alan Cavanna: I think the right message was sent to the crew guys about getting involved and crossing some major lines. I was right there watching some of those guys throw wild haymakers. Some were just simple cheap shots. It was awful. Kenny, you were even closer! I can't imagine what you saw. Brad Norman: It was stout, but delivered a clear message -- you can't throw punches. Crew members are not like the goons in hockey. You don't bring them there to fight. And you don't use someone else's melee to settle an old score with a cheap shot. Kenny Bruce: My initial takeaway was "Huh. No penalties for anyone on the No. 2 team; no penalty for Mr. Harvick." Understandable that the drivers involved (Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski ) weren't penalized for what amounted to some pushing, shoving, grabbing. But when folks start throwing punches? Yeah, NASCAR should step in and dole out some punishment. I think they got it right. Norman: The fine of $25,000 is a lot to a crewmember -- to anyone, really, even Hendrick Motorsports (which will pay the fines). But I'd be willing to bet the crew guys were more upset with their respective suspensions. Can you imagine working literally years toward this moment, and not being able to see it through? Bruce: As for what I saw, Alan ... a big pile of folks jammed into a tiny space. It's not something I'd recommend. You pretty much go whichever way the pile decides. Cavanna: I learned not to mess with Kenny Bruce! Norman: We saw some dialogue on Twitter about this, Alan. If you're suspended for six races, someone else does your job for you. You're allowing someone to come in and do your own job. What if they do it better? Cavanna: Along with "don't throw punches," I hope it also sent the message to let the drivers hash it out between themselves. The drivers get themselves into these situations; they should be allowed to settle. Let the crew guys break it up if need be, but it shouldn't be a brawl. Bruce: I think you hit on a big difference there, Brad. Missing out on an opportunity to possibly celebrate a title? Yeah, that's large. Norman: I'm still not certain Brad Keselowski did anything wrong, either. Cavanna: Certainly not in the pits, Mr. Norman. As for what Brad did on the track ... it'll remain in the eye of the beholder. Bruce: As a former "driver," Alan, I'm sure you can understand Gordon's displeasure at the contact. But it seems a lot of folks believe Keselowski did nothing wrong. The guy was trying to win a race, and possibly a championship. No different from any of the others still in the Chase. Cavanna: I agree fully, Kenny. I liked Brad going for the win with everything on the line. But there are some online and in the garage who disagree. Bruce: And they were all crowded around the No. 2 car after the race, right? 2. With only 18 points separating the eight drivers in the Eliminator Round, who is the most likely and who is the least likely to advance into the Championship Round? Cavanna: Most likely, for me, are Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano . I picked Gordon to win on the FedEx Preview Show , and Logano just needs a top-10. I think he gets it. Norman: At this point, you're almost making a bold prediction by picking the four drivers who have been the best (and most consistent) all year -- the 2, 4, 22 and 24. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick , in particular, face an uphill slog to advance. It's hard to imagine Harvick not being in contention for the win given his Phoenix dominance, and the same with Keselowski, really. That Talladega must-win situation in which the No. 2 team came through is still top of mind. Bruce: I don't think any one of the eight can go into Phoenix thinking "let's just get out of here with a decent finish." The points are just too close. Playing it safe, as Denny Hamlin noted Tuesday, means something like a 17th-place finish. And that's probably not going to put you in the final four. Cavanna: I think you're spot-on, Kenny. It's possible Harvick could have a top-five run and miss out if he doesn't win. Keselowski too. Harvick's six-point deficit doesn't sounds huge, but with the way everyone is running, it's nearly must-win. Norman: The guy most in trouble to me is Matt Kenseth , which may seem kind of strange. He's one point back of fourth-place Jeff Gordon , but Matt is just not very good at Phoenix. And there are a lot of guys in the Chase who are really good here. It's sort of the same situation with Ryan Newman , but Newman has a points cushion to fall back on where Kenseth has none. I really think either Harvick or Keselowski wins and shakes this thing up a little bit. I also expect Gordon to run well. Bruce: So I guess it's wide open. But I think Logano is the safest bet to advance, based on his current position and his team's consistency. The least likely would seem to be Carl Edwards, who isn't in the top four at the moment and hasn't had much of a Chase. Which of course means he'll probably win Phoenix. Norman: That Edwards still has a real shot is fascinating. He was so bad at Texas, yet logged a top-10 after all those cautions. And he's the only guy to have won at Phoenix other than Harvick in the past four races there. Cavanna: He came within a half-gallon of gas of sweeping last year, Kenny. Edwards to Homestead!!! Bruce: Good points, guys. And based on what we've seen so far in this year's Chase, I wouldn't feel comfortable locking anyone in, or out, going into this weekend's race. 3. Chase Elliott can wrap up the NNS championship this weekend. Is the 18-year-old ready to move up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2015? Cavanna: He's absolutely ready, but that doesn't mean he'll suffer from another year of Nationwide , I mean XFINITY Series, action. Norman: Not quite. He's obviously tremendously talented, and he's going to get great equipment when he makes the move, but I think one more full-time year in the XFINITY Series is the right move. Chase will win the title this year, and will be in a great spot to win it next year. That's Ricky Stenhouse-esque. When he moves up, though, I think he'll be like Kyle Larson right away -- competing for wins. Bruce: I think he's ready -- three wins and perhaps a championship look pretty good -- but that doesn't mean I think he'd step up and run as well. The competition gets a lot tougher at the top. Cavanna: His best wins have come against some of the best in Cup. And given the changes to the 2015 Cup cars, he may be more qualified than any Nationwide driver in recent years. Norman: It's really a pretty ridiculous story when you consider Chase didn't have a ride, in any series, at this point last year. Something came together with NAPA late, and here we are. I'm eager to see how Mr. Elliott does with a new crew chief in 2015 as well. Cavanna: If he didn't have a quality ride waiting for him in the future, I could see him easily moving up in 2015. But really, no need to rush if you don't have to. Bruce: Makes me think of Logano and getting tossed in the No. 20 car after Tony Stewart 's departure. Talented kid, but ... Norman: He's like that incredible pitching prospect in the farm system, Alan. Cavanna: I'll give you that, Brad. At Chase's young age, it can't hurt to learn about transition and working with different people. Going through that change, and succeeding, will make him better in the long run. Bruce: Mentioning Stenhouse, Larson, then there's Austin Dillon as well. Great NNS efforts. But even as well as Larson has run, he's not winning at Cup. Getting close, no doubt. I don't know how another year in the series would benefit Elliott. Would it hurt? No. He's still got a lot of years ahead of him. I think a lot of it just depends on what's available, team-wise and sponsor-wise. Norman: I think the most intriguing question is ... which ride does Chase get? Does Jeff Gordon retire? Does Kasey Kahne move on? Hendrick's stable is outstanding, but they have three guys 39 and older. Cavanna: If Hendrick could have five cars, I think Chase moves up immediately. Bruce: Seems pretty obvious he's destined for a Hendrick ride. A lot of talk about Gordon sticking around (sponsor signings) and a lot about Kahne being the odd-man out. Norman: Just think of the headline possibilities when a guy named Chase wins the Chase. I meant to say "if," and it came out "when." Maybe that's a sign. Bruce: They'll have to re-name it, or him. Anyone know his middle name? It isn't Sprint, is it? Cavanna: Chase Winston Grand Nationals Elliott Bruce: Wiki says William Clyde Elliott II Norman: First name William, but he goes by something else. I can respect that. Bruce: Not Billy Clyde? Cavanna: Wow. I learned something today. I think he should stick with Chase. Norman: That's the name they'll put on that championship trophy, at least. Bruce: Some great names out there ... but that's a discussion for another day. (Right William?) For now, it's on to Phoenix and another stop in the Chase. Not that Chase. Hold your punches, gentlemen. Cavanna: From someone who knows. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Tensions flare up in Texas after conclusion of Eliminator Round race RELATED: Full race results " Updated standings MORE: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jeff Gordon said he wanted to do more than talk. Brad Keselowski said he'd rather "have enemies in NASCAR than have friends and be sitting at home." RELATED: Drivers sound off on Twitter The two former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions were at the center of a post-race brawl on pit road following Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway . Gordon, upset after contact between the two during the first of two attempts at a green, white, checkered finish, pulled his car alongside Keselowski's on pit road after the event, quickly climbed out and attempted to confront the Team Penske driver. Crewmembers of the two teams were already pushing and shoving each other as Gordon approached Keselowski. The exchange between the two drivers quickly escalated into a physical confrontation that eventually involved crewmen from both teams, as well as members of other organizations, including driver Kevin Harvick . Both Gordon and Keselowski suffered cuts to their faces in the melee. "It's his disregard for what's going on out there," Gordon said afterward. "He does things that force his team to have to defend him like that. I mean it's a shame. It's a real shame, you know? "He made an over-aggressive move. Those moves are fine if you've got a slamming, banging race. But he cut my left rear tire and that was it for me." The two drivers are among the eight that are competing for one of four spots in the Championship Round of this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup at Homestead Miami Speedway. A final opportunity to secure a position awaits next week at Phoenix International Raceway . Gordon, the points leader heading into Texas, was out front when the caution flag came out at lap 332 of the 334-lap event for an accident involving Clint Bowyer . Keselowski was third on the restart, with Jimmie Johnson , Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, in between. Contact after the restart between Gordon and Keselowski sent Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet spinning. Although there was no significant body damage, Gordon had to pit to replace a flat tire under the caution. "(Expletive) 2 car ran into us, that's what happened," Gordon told his crew when asked what took place. On the ensuing restart, Johnson pulled away from Keselowski, and drove away for his 70th career win while Harvick made a last-lap pass to finish second, just ahead of Keselowski. Gordon, after leading eight times for 49 laps, finished 29th and is now fourth in points. Keselowski is seventh. "We're going to take this fire that's inside of us and this momentum, we taking it to Phoenix and we're going to win that race," Gordon said. Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, said last year's failure to make the Chase and compete at the level he expects was "not acceptable to me. "I'm here to win races for (team owner) Roger Penske and for my team. "That means when there's a gap (on the track), I have to take it. If it requires a tiny bit of rubbing, that's OK. Plenty of times where I got rubbed." It's the second time during this year's Chase that Keselowski has been involved in a post-race altercation. Last month, he was fined $50,000 and placed on probation through Nov. 12 for contact on pit road after the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Crew chief Paul Wolfe defended his driver, acknowledging that Keselowski "races hard." "Sometimes that rubs people the wrong way maybe but I didn't see him do anything way out of line there," Wolfe said. "There was a gap there and yeah, there was contact with the 24 -- they were coming down for the win, a pretty important win for any of us. Just racing hard. (Gordon) could have given us more room, too, if he was worried about getting a flat tire." NASCAR's Robin Pemberton, senior vice president of competition and racing development, said the new Chase format has created "just a lot of pressure out there to perform. It's laid out there 100 percent all the time and I think we've seen that." Pemberton said no drivers or team members were called to the NASCAR hauler after the race. As is the case after any incident, officials will view all available video before making any decision regarding possible punishment. "We'll take our time (and) make all the right decisions that we can. We've got a lot of things to look at," he said. In the previous round, Keselowski pulled off a must-win effort at Talladega to remain in Chase contention. Now, with another incident hanging over his head, he'll head to Phoenix trying to put Sunday's altercation aside. "If Roger Penske came to me tomorrow and said, ‘Brad, you drove that race wrong, you shouldn't have done what you did, it would affect me," he said. "But the management team at Penske tells me to drive the way and I did and tells me there's nothing to be ashamed of and continues to support me. And they're my boss. … "As long as they're on my side, I feel strong and I feel proud and encouraged to continue." His No. 2 team won't be affected by the most recent dust-up either, he said. "They'll probably get a couple of good laughs out of it and be even more hungry," he said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation