By NASCAR feud standards it wasn't that dramatic, but when Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon expressed “disappointment” with each other's driving after Monday's race in Texas, it made news precisely because the Hendrick Motorsports stars are normally such an easy-going pair. Gordon and Johnson banged together while dueling for the lead of the rain-delayed race, resulting in damage that eventually forced Johnson into the pits with a flat tire. Friday at Talladega, however, both drivers said they had put the matter behind them
“Honestly, we are out there racing and it doesn't matter, teammate or not, you're going to race really, really hard. And that's what we do,” Johnson said. “Jeff and I have been racing each other really hard because we've both have had really good racecars and race wins and, of course, there is a very intense rivalry through the Hendrick teammates, especially in that 24/48 shop. But being that it's a rivalry, it's always been a very good one and it will continue to be that way. We push each other really hard and ask a lot and we're both greedy in ways and have probably put each other in positions on the racetrack that he [Gordon] hasn't liked, and I haven't liked and found myself in that position in Texas and decided to express myself a little bit. We've talked, for sure. Everything is fine and in good shape and we'll just keep racing.
“We're fine; everything's good,” agreed Gordon, who's strong bid for victory ended with a multi-car accident in the late stages at Texas. He admitted that the strength of his car at TMS added to the frustration he felt at the end.
“We've raced hard for years – I just never had a car that could keep up with him, “ Gordon said of his reigning champion teammate. “We've got that this year. In a way, I hope we see more of it. We don't want to be bumping and banging, but I do want to be changing positions with him for the lead and swapping those [positions]. I love racing with Jimmie and because you know when you're racing with Jimmie, you're running good. He set that standard here over the last several years, and that's one that we haven't lived up to. It's one that I feel like we're capable of living up to this year. That's why we're going to be more aggressive, and we're going to be racing hard, and that means that we're going to upset some guys along the way.”