Dale Earnhardt Jr. took blame for an incident with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, which brought the four-time Sprint Cup champion's strong run at Bristol to an early end.
The pair were running side by side battling for position while running in the top-ten in the order on lap 360 of Sunday's race, when Earnhardt ran a bit wide at the exit of Turn 2, bumping into Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet. The contact seemed to cut the left-rear tire of the latter, causing him to spin as he entered Turn 3.
Gordon hit hard against the barrier, damage forcing him to the garage for lengthy repairs. Although he would eventually get back out on track, he finished a lowly 35th.
"I think we bumped more than we should have is the way it looks like," Gordon said. "We definitely didn't hit in the right location, because I think the tailpipe or something just cut the left-rear (tire) immediately.
"We didn't hit that hard. We were a little bit too tight and he was pretty good on the restart there and we were racing hard. I know that it was intentional, but it certainly ruined our day."
Earnhardt, who was able to carry on without much damage, would later be penalized for speeding in the pits, losing out on a potential top-10 finish, eventually crossing the line in 15th. He lamented causing the incident that hampered Gordon's strong run as well.
"I absolutely feel responsible," said Earnhardt. "I got into his door a little bit. We were racing and having a good time, to be honest with you. I put the pipes up against the left-rear tire of his car, and knocked the side wall out of it.
"I feel bad about that. I'm going to have to do some damage control this week. I know Jeff understands what was going on out there, but his boys work real hard on their car, and they had a good run going. They had a potential win, or good finish going too; and they deserve it."
"I'll just have to sit down and talk to him and see where he's at. I've got to own up to my responsibility in the situation, which I will, and go from there."
Earnhardt continues to be the highest-ranked Hendrick driver in the standings, despite dropping from fourth to sixth following Sunday's race. Gordon lost six positions in points and he's currently 23rd.