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Jim Utter

Nick Sanchez left bloodied in fight with Matt Crafton at Talladega

Sanchez was trying to climb back towards the front of the pack after a mid-race penalty while leading Saturday's NASCAR Truck race at Talladega.

Late in the event, the playoff driver tried to force the issue up the middle in a three-wide situation. He and Crafton made contact, igniting a pileup that involved several trucks.

Crafton pulled his damaged truck into Sanchez's team stall, leaving it there.

Sanchez went on to finish seventh. After the race, Crafton confronted Sanchez. Punches were thrown and a fight ensued. captured video showing Sanchez being pulled away from the skirmish with blood all over his face.

Sanchez can be heard threatening Crafton, saying: "I'm going to f****** kill you at Homestead. You f***** with the wrong guy, motherf*****.

Sanchez explains what happened

NASCAR's investigation into the incident is ongoing. was among those who spoke with Sanchez after he was checked and released from the infield care center. 

According to eyewitnesses and video taken of the incident, shortly after the completion of Saturday's race, Crafton approached Sanchez from behind near Sanchez's transporter in the garage area and tapped him on the shoulder. Sanchez immediately turned around and Crafton struck Sanchez. 

The two then became entangled in a fight before being separated. Sanchez was left with a badly bloodied face and went to the infield care center, where he was treated and released. 

"I mean I was walking back to the hauler, got a tap on my back and got punched in the face. It was a cheap shot. It is what it is, I guess," Sanchez told a small group of reporters. "Yeah, I'm all for fighting, but no cheap shots. I really never had a chance to get him back. It's a part of racing."

Asked if he was aware Crafton was upset after their wreck and had parked his wrecked truck in Sanchez's pit and walked off, Sanchez said, "I heard a little bit about it but not a whole lot, right? It's Talladega. It's plate racing. I mean, yeah, it was an aggressive move I made but I held my line. It is what it is and it happens every year."

Sanchez said he did not require any stitches and may have a slight break in his nose. 

Asked what he plans to do at Homestead, Sanchez said, "Try to win the race."

Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing, Jack Links/Menards Ford F-150 (Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images)

On Sunday, Crafton posted a message on social media giving his side of the story.

"Here is what wasn’t caught on video… First, let’s address the “sucker punch.” Before the cameras started rolling I approached Nick and said “hey” when he turned around I said “what the —?!” to which he looked right at me and threatened me. 

"That is when it all went to hell. I had his attention, words were exchanged, all before anything physical took place, so I did not “sucker punch” the guy. There may not be video, but there were plenty of eye witnesses.

"What people don’t take into account is that he all but “sucker punched” me at 200 mph. The way he pushed my truck gave me no ability to get out of the situation and he was told multiple times during that race the way he was pushing people was going to cause a wreck and going to get people hurt. There is a consistent pattern of certain drivers having a lack of respect on the track, and it was time for someone to say something.

"Am I proud that it got physical, no, but last time I checked everyone on that track is a grown adult. If a man looks at me and threatens me, I am going to react. Especially when tempers are already flared from being wrecked on the track.

"I apologize to my team, my sponsors and partners, my family, and the NASCAR community for the negativity and for taking attention away from a good day of racing at Talladega."

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