Teammates put spat behind them

Updated: August 25, 2012, 12:02 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't let a heated moment at Michigan carry over into Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"I was mad, but I got over it fast," Gordon said Friday. "It wasn't that big of a deal, but it kind of became that big of a deal the way the messages got misconstrued.

Earnhardt
Earnhardt
Gordon
Gordon

"I get fired up. I say things all the time. I guess you guys just don't air it and listen to it when it's not towards Junior."

Gordon took verbal shots at Earnhardt over his in-car radio after NASCAR's most popular driver slid up in front of him to create a four-wide situation midway through Sunday's race. He was openly unhappy with the way he was raced by a teammate.

"Tell the f------ 88 he can thank me later for not wrecking his ass,'' Gordon said over his radio. "That was f------ stupid."

Gordon said had he not backed off "I would have wrecked all of us." He later had engine issues that left him with a 28th-place finish that put him further back in the battle for the second wild-card spot.

By Tuesday's team meeting, there was no issue.

"I sent him a text immediately when that race was over," Gordon said. "I didn't have to do it. I just wanted him to understand what I said. When we had the incident here (Earnhardt's car cut Gordon's tire in the spring race), he called me. That stuff happens.

"People don't understand what teammates are in this sport. Teammates, you share information and get along, but you're still competitors, and some days you don't get along."

Gordon said he would have lashed out at whoever put him in the vulnerable position he was at Michigan.

"Why can I not say anything to him but I could say it to somebody else and it's not a big deal?" Gordon asked. "At that moment I'm not thinking about that's my teammate. I had to check up to keep from wrecking us, and I lost five spots. So I was mad."

Earnhardt said he understood Gordon's frustration.

"Sometimes you are going to be racing teammates in those situations and sometimes you're not going to feel good about being on either end of it," he said. "I respect the hell out of Jeff, I know exactly what he's done for this sport and I know what that means for this sport and I know what it means to the company I drive for."

Earnhardt said the issue is done.

"He's got seniority, and I totally get all that," Earnhardt said. "I try to be an asset to his program as much as I can. I know it doesn't look like it at times, but when we are out on the race track we've got to run hard. I try not to do anything foolish, but you've got to go. I felt like I was just doing what I was supposed to be doing."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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