As NASCAR heads to Richmond this weekend, fans and media alike are gearing up for what could be part three of the highly publicized Gordon/Johnson showdown.
The generally mild-mannered Hendrick drivers first tussled in Texas two weeks ago when they made contact on lap 240 racing for second place.
Johnson’s car sustained left side damage and sent him to pit road, but in the end found him finishing the race in second place, while Gordon got tangled up in a late wreck with Tony Stewart and would end up finishing a somber 31st.
A disgruntled Gordon voiced his frustration with Johnson over the radio to crew chief Steve Letarte, "Four-time is a little upset. He [expects] to be treated different than everybody else.”
When asked about the incident in a post-race interview, Johnson stated, "He [Gordon] was just on my bumper, pushing me through the center of the turn—I was like, 'Man, I really can't go anywhere if you're there, pushing me; if you'd just get off my a** and let me get control of my car, I can accelerate.'"
“I am pretty disappointed in how he was racing me today, but we will get to the bottom of it and sort it out. [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 the next race and do it again."
And do it again they did in Talladega.
Prior to the race, both Johnson and Gordon confirmed that “they had put their problems behind them,” but an on track altercation proved otherwise.
On lap 182 Gordon made a hard charge under the No. 48, Johnson moved to block in turn three, forcing the Dupont Chevrolet onto the apron and essentially stifling Gordon’s momentum.
Shortly thereafter Gordon was caught in a multicar accident, finishing the race in the 22nd position and voiced his displeasure once again for his teammate’s on track antics.
“The 48 [Johnson] is testing my patience, I can tell you that. “It takes a lot to make me mad, and I’m pissed right now. When a car is going that much faster…I don’t know what it is with me and him right now—but whatever.”
Johnson, who finished 31st after his own late-race wreck ceremoniously took the blame. “I misjudged the closing rate, we all make mistakes, I am no different," said Johnson. "Certainly, that was my fault. I made the mistake there."
As the race week transitions from the high speeds of the super speedway to the down and dirty short track rebellion, all eyes will be focused on the two HMS drivers, wondering just what will happen next?
Will the hatchet be officially buried or will the intensity of the short track racing add fuel to the fire?
While both drivers are filled with passion and strong words, what I'd really like to see is a real knock-down, drag out, hair raising cat fight! I really don't condone violence, but it sure would be fun to watch.
Sadly, an argument between Johnson and Gordon feels just about as threatening as an "Orbit Gum" commercial.
Beyond the walls of the NASCAR hauler, much like the "dirty mouth" ads, I imagine this dialogue taking place.
Gordon: Jimmie, you son of a biscuit-eating bulldog!
Johnson: What the French toast?!
Gordon: Look, you doo doo head cootie king, did you think you could hold me up on the track just because you are a four time champion?!
Johnson: Who are you calling a cootie king? You lint-licker!
Gordon: Pickle you kumquat!
Johnson: Jeff, you're overreacting!
Gordon: No, Jimmie, overreacting was when I put your Lowe’s Chevrolet into a wood chipper, Stinky McStinkface!