Monday, April 19, 2010 | 4:10 p.m.
The fenders of the No. 24 and No. 48 cars weren’t the only things bruised at the end of the race at Texas Motor Speedway. The jockeying for track real estate between Jimmie Johnson and his mentor Jeff Gordon once again exposed a crack in the relationship between the two drivers. Both drivers said they were “disappointed” with each other, while at the same time denying that there is any “trouble” between the two of them.
I’m not totally buying these denials. Gordon and Johnson are professionals and I doubt they would let competitive tension become acute enough to drive a wedge through the middle of the Hendrick organization. But given the way they have recently raced one another and their the post-race comments of late, I think there is more tension than they care to publicly admit.
During the race, Gordon made a few comments about his teammate over the radio. “Four-time is a little upset,” Gordon said. “He (expects) to be treated different than everybody else.”
After the race, Gordon continued his criticism when he said: “I guess he thought I was being too aggressive. I don’t know, he just drove into my door.”
“I am pretty disappointed in how he was racing me today, but we will get to the bottom of it and sort it out,” Johnson said after the race. “I think we are both pretty frustrated with how we have been racing each other. There was some things today I wasn’t real pleased with, so when I had a chance to express myself, I did.”
Despite these comments, both drivers also went the diplomatic route. “That’s just two friends trying to go for a win. We’re good enough friends and teammates that we’ll get over it,” said Gordon. “There’s no need to play it out in the press. We’ll get it taken care of at the shop and during the week and come back to race the next week and do it again,” said Johnson.
Rick Hendrick expects a certain public demeanor from his drivers, so it’s not a surprise that Johnson and Gordon would try to downplay any tension between the two camps. And we all know that competitive racing sometimes results in frustration. But the initial comments each driver made about being “disappointed” is more telling than the spin the two drivers try to put on the on-track tension. Add to that the fact that this isn’t the first Johnson and Gordon have tangled and you can see that there are a few cracks in the relationship.
Let’s face it, we won’t see a full-blown feud between Johnson and Gordon. I don’t think Rick Hendrick would stand for it. But a little tension between these teammates could add another element of excitement to the 2010 season.
I attended the NHRA drag races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday and I had a chance to view the action from several vantage points during the competition. I was in the grandstands, at the starting line and at the finish line. The view of the racing action from every location was excellent. Below is a photo of a Top Fuel dragster in the pits complete with its wing that looks like it belong on a dragster, not on a Cup car. What was NASCAR thinking when it decided to try a wing on the Cup cars? Thank goodness that era is over.