RICHMOND, Va. -- Tight, short-track racing often juices tempers as drivers battle over the closing laps for a win.
Oddly, however, the biggest post-race driver confrontation of the season to date occurred at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night between two drivers – Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears – who finished 18th and 19th.Ambrose and Mears were involved in a tense conversation a few minutes after the Toyota Owners 400 when Mears shoved Ambrose and Ambrose responded by punching Mears in the face. Crew members quickly broke up the tussle after Ambrose's swing.
Video of the incident clearly showed Ambrose hitting Mears, knocking Mears' cap off his head. NASCAR said Mears did not go to the infield care center.
Neither Mears nor Ambrose nor any of their team principals would discuss the incident.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said officials watched the incident video after the race and that more study and conversation will follow before a determination is made about possible penalties.
"We're looking at the video," Pemberton said. "It doesn't seem to be much. We'll take a look Monday and Tuesday.
"We don't think it was anything too severe. We'll get all the footage we can and look at it and see what happens from there."
Pemberton said there is no indication as to what may have sparked the argument.
"It was good, hard racing tonight," Pemberton said. "It was probably one of the best races we've seen at Richmond. We had a lot of good lead changes. People were being aggressive, and that's what we like to see."
While solid punches like the one thrown by Ambrose are rare, post-race driver altercations are not.
In 2013, for example, Joey Logano, Saturday night's winner, tangled with Tony Stewart at Auto Club Speedway on pit road. And Brian Scott was kicked in the groin by Nelson Piquet Jr. after the spring Nationwide race here.
NASCAR's history is crowded with fights and disputes, some more memorable and with greater impact than others. The biggest occurred after the end of the 1979 Daytona 500 when Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison fought after climbing out of their cars a few minutes after Yarborough and Donnie Allison crashed while racing for the win.
Ambrose, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports and welcomed team owner Richard Petty back to a track this weekend after Petty's wife Lynda died last month, is known as a road course expert and has two road course wins on NASCAR's premier series circuit.
Mears drives for Germain Racing. His best finish this year is 10th, in the season-opening Daytona 500.
He tweeted later: "Had a good car tonight. Proud of the @GEICORacing team. Interesting end to the night. #13"