Sunday, March 18, 2012
Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes blame
By David Newton
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is starting to make a habit of having run-ins with former and current teammates.
NASCAR's most popular driver took the blame on Sunday for ending the day of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon when the two got together on Lap 361, cutting the left rear tire of the four-time Sprint Cup champion's car, sending it into a spin.
That incident came a week after Earnhardt ran former HMS teammate Mark Martin into the wall at Las Vegas.
"At least we won't have to hear about me and Mark Martin anymore,'' Earnhardt jokingly told crew chief Steve Letarte over his in-car radio after the incident with Gordon.
Earnhardt took time in his schedule last week to make amends with Martin after making harsh comments about how the 53-year-old driver was responsible for the Vegas incident.
He's ready for more of what he called repair work with Gordon.
"I just have to sit down and talk to him and see where he's at,'' Earnhardt said. "I absolutely feel responsible. I got into his door a little bit. I put the pipes up against the left rear tire of the car, and knocked the side wall out of it. I feel bad about that.''
Gordon seemingly understood, saying he knew the incident wasn't intentional.
"But it certainly ruined our day,'' he said.
Earnhardt then ruined his own day, getting a late pit road speeding penalty that turned a top-five finish into a 15th that dropped him from fourth to sixth in the points standings.
"I'm upset that I screwed myself on pit road speeding there,'' Earnhardt said. "I'm pretty upset about that. Otherwise, I feel bad about running into Jeff's car.''