Jeff Gordon-Tony Stewart: Is It on Again?

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMarch 30, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, leads Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Martinsville Speedway is famous on the NASCAR circuit as a short track and for its paper clip shape.

The Speedway is also infamous for the temper tantrums and short fuses that occur as drivers cannot help but beat and bang on each other as they attempt to make their way to the head of the pack.

Martinsville did not disappoint yet again this weekend, with some of NASCAR's biggest names nudging each other out of the way to advance their positions.

Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon had a few of those pushing exchanges, as did Jimmie Johnson, who went on to muscle his way forward to take the checkered flag.

But most interesting in the on-track tussles was seeing the red No. 14 Old Spice machine getting into it with none other than the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet.

These two drivers, Tony Stewart and Gordon respectively, had a few choice words for each other after their racing rubbing.

Gordon made his displeasure clear in his in-car audio, stating that he was "going to put that car into the wall," if Stewart got into him again. Stewart had a similar, and equally colorful, reaction.

Those angry words from both Gordon and Stewart sounded vaguely familiar. Indeed these two drivers do have a past history of being very unhappy with one another.

One of the first incidents occurred in 2000 at Watkins Glen, when the two drivers got into each other in the chicane on the second lap of the race.

In a YouTube video capturing a very heated exchange between both drivers, Gordon is heard to say, "I'll slam you straight into the wall anytime you are near me,” to Stewart, in between a few words that were bleeped out of course.

The following week, the pair had yet another on-track incident, crashing into each other in Michigan.

In 2001, Gordon and Stewart met again at Bristol, another short track.  Gordon used the bump and run on the last lap to move Stewart, spinning him out, to finish fourth.

When the race ended, Stewart found Gordon on pit road and forcefully returned the bumping, and spinning, favor.

After a bit of a lull, their rivalry was renewed at the June race at the Monster Mile in Dover, Del.  During this race in 2005, Stewart got into the left rear of Gordon.

The end result to this tangle was that Gordon hit the wall, taking Ricky Rudd along with him for the ride.

The following year, Gordon and Stewart were at it again. In the 2006 Daytona 500, Gordon got loose, sliding into the nose of Stewart.

This entanglement led to both Gordon and Stewart brushing the wall. It also effectively ended Gordon's chance to win that race.

The next few years seemed to be very quiet between these two drivers. But the short track racing at Martinsville this year seems to have ignited their rivalry and disagreement yet again.

So, is the battle royal between Gordon and Stewart beginning to heat up yet again in 2009? Or was all this just a product of so many cars being packed tightly together on racing's most famous paper clip track?

Both of these drivers are currently in the top 10 in points, with Gordon in the first spot and Stewart seventh in points.

Given their current points standings and if the rivalry is back in gear, this year's Chase for the Championship may be one of the most interesting, and heated, in NASCAR's history.