Friday, April 30, 2010
Gordon, Johnson work out issues
RICHMOND, Va. -- Jeff Gordon is done being angry at teammate Jimmie Johnson for two consecutive run-ins on the race track.
Gordon didn't like the way Johnson raced him two weeks ago at Texas and uncharacteristically expressed anger in his teammate following last week's race at Talladega. Johnson admittedly made a mistake late in the race that contributed to Gordon wrecking.
Team owner Rick Hendrick moderated a conference call this week between the pair of four-time champions, and Gordon said Friday that everything is fine.
"It's amazing what happens when you get Mr. H involved," Gordon said before qualifying at Richmond International Raceway. "The three of us had a good conversation. I think we all recognize what contributed to everything that happened at Texas, as well as Talladega. We feel like the most important stuff is all the communication we have in the week and at the race track -- what that contributes to our success as a group is too important to let a rivalry escalate out of control.
"It's OK to have rivalries, we understand that, and to be competitive. We are very competitive. All that's good, and healthy, and that's what we talked about. He pleaded his case, and I pleaded mine, and we both said 'Yep, it's all good," and we moved on,'" he said.
Gordon has raced with increased intensity this season and come close to Victory Lane at least three times. But while he's still winless this year, Johnson has won three races -- including the one at Las Vegas that Gordon dominated.
Gordon has never shown resentment or jealousy of Johnson, who has surpassed him as the top driver at NASCAR. But after their Talladega incident, he said on national TV that Johnson is "testing my patience."
Gordon said Friday he doesn't regret criticizing Johnson.
"But it is a fine line when it is your teammate, as well as your friend, and when you look at the whole organization, there's a fine line between being emotional and it affecting the day-to-day operations," Gordon said. "I had to look at the bigger picture, and I think Jimmie did as well. I think that is where Rick is so good in allowing us to recognize those things."
Johnson said the notion of a potential feud has been blown out of proportion.
"At the same time, when somebody gets out of a race car and says pretty pointed things, it gives everybody the opportunity to chase it down and see what's going on," Johnson said. "I think the lesson in all of it is that we're very competitive guys and emotions are high regardless of if it's a teammate or not, and we're both doing everything we can to win races.
"Everything's in good shape," he said. "And we'll just make sure we stay away from each other for a week or two and not let anything else fester this thing along and we'll be fine."