Jeff Gordon described winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale at Homestead as an ideal apology after the turmoil that ensued following his retaliatory crash with Clint Bowyer at Phoenix.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver tapped Bowyer into the wall with seven laps to go during the penultimate round, having waited for his rival to come back around following previous contact between the pair. Both cars were wrecked as a result and it culminated in a pit lane brawl between the two crews.
Prior to the Homestead race, Gordon expressed his remorse to his team for causing the incidents.
"I apologized to the guys for some of the things that transpired that they had to get involved with that wasn't their doing," he said. "I put them in that position and I apologized to them and I thanked them at the same time for having my back."
Gordon said in his post-Phoenix soul-searching he had concluded that all he could do now was race better in the future, and saw the Homestead win as the perfect start to that turnaround.
"I felt terrible [after Phoenix] and still regret the way I went about it but you know what, I can't take it back," he said. "What we can do is look forward and race guys as hard and clean as we possibly can. This is a great way to get some positive things going because this year has been real up and down."
He also thanked team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Alan Gustafson for their unwavering support in the week between the races.
"It meant the world to me to have Rick stand by my side all week, as well as Alan, and I think that was so special going into victory lane."
Gordon led home Bowyer as he notched up his 87th Cup win at Homestead, and the irony of finishing ahead of his Phoenix combatant was not lost on him.
"It didn't matter who was behind me. But I thought it was pretty ironic," said Gordon. "I just tried to focus on our car, our team, our position and to get the most out of it. After it was over I thought 'I can't believe that we just finished first and second after what happened last week...'"