by Terry Blount
Johnson wasn't thrilled with Gordon, either.
"I'm equally disappointed in him," Johnson said. "At one point he was just on my bumper, pushing me through [the] corner. I was saying, 'Man, just get off my ass so I can accelerate.'"
Well, well. So much for the overly polite praise between these two. Clearly, even friends and teammates get mad at each other sometimes.
Gordon and Johnson had the two best cars on the track most of the day in the Samsung Mobile 500, racing side by side Monday and trading spots for the lead several times.
But things got dicey with 94 laps to go when the two cars came off Turn 4. Gordon got under Johnson after tapping his bumper, forcing Johnson up the track.
As Gordon was going by, Johnson veered to the left and slammed into Gordon's door panel. The collision caused Johnson's fender to rub into his left front tire, eventually cutting the tire.
"I don't know," Gordon said. "He was really loose. I got to him and got underneath him. He was just too loose and my car was too good. I guess he thought I was being too aggressive and he just drove into my door. He also ran into the back of me [earlier in the race] for no reason."
Johnson went on to finish second behind Denny Hamlin. Gordon was involved in a nine-car crash after a restart with 17 laps to go. He finished 31st.
"When you have a car like I had today, you're not teammates or friends," Gordon said. "You've just got to race hard.
"I'm disappointed, but I'll get over it and so will he. We'll talk about it. It's the competitors coming out in us, not anything against one another.''
"This is gonna happen in racing whether you're teammates or not," Johnson said. "Sometimes you get irritated. We've had this issue in the past. Sometimes you have good communication and sometimes it's bad.
"But don't let your headline writers say 'Trouble at Hendrick.' I don't think it's a big deal."
Neither does Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief.
"They're just racing hard," Knaus said. "That stuff happens. You want a couple of stallions out there, not a couple of old mares. That's why both those guys are four-time champions."