CONCORD -- One of Jeff Gordon's goals during this week's Sprint Cup test at Lowe's Motor Speedway is to find a way to have a little more peace and quiet -- over his team's radio.
"I apologize to everyone who's been listening because I've been terrible on the radio this year," Gordon said Monday as the two days of testing began. "Why? We've run like crap, that's why. If we're running up front, you won't hear a word out of me."
Gordon said he's apologized to crew chief Steve Letarte at times for things he might have said.
"It goes back to frustration," the four-time Cup champion said. "I can't stop my thumb from pushing that button and expressing my frustration."
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Gordon's team set at modern-era record with 30 top-10 finishes last year, but this year the No. 24 doesn't have a win and has had only four top-10s in 10 races. Gordon is 13th in the Cup standings.
"I know what we're capable of doing," he said. "I know how good we can be."
Gordon said his team has struggled with getting grip in the new car being used at all tracks for the first time.
"We're so far out of the box with what we're trying to do that it just drives really, really bad," he said. "The crazy thing is it seems like the worse we make the car drive, the faster it goes."
Gordon said his team is happy to get the test here, which only recently was added by NASCAR. Not only will it help for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 17 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, Gordon said what teams learn can be applied to other tracks.
"When you only have a couple hours of practice when you get to the track, sometimes it's tough to find that," he said. "You can take your time a little bit more and really try things, make changes and really know what those changes are doing."
Richmond ripples beginning to fade?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch said they look forward to a chance to talk about their Lap 398 incident in Saturday night's race at Richmond, Va.
"I hope we can talk about it and put it behind us," Busch said. "I've reached out to Dale Jr. -- I called him earlier this morning and got his voicemail. Hopefully we'll either see each other in the garage or he'll get back to me later. Maybe even tonight. It's Cinco de Mayo, maybe we'll go party it up a little bit."
Busch said again he felt the contact, which came as the two battled for the lead and wound up with Earnhardt Jr. spinning out of contention for a win, was simply a racing incident.
Earnhardt Jr. said he didn't feel he could be more vocal or angrier about what happened because he wound up hitting and knocking Busch out of a Chase for the Cup race last year at Kansas.
Casey Mears said he's not worried about losing his ride at Hendrick Motorsports. "We're solid for next year and definitely focused on moving forward," he said. "We feel like we're just now starting to feel like we're getting on the same page."
Brian Vickers said NASCAR's decision to let teams test here was a good one.
"I am very glad NASCAR took the initiative to add this to the schedule after some of the issues we've had at the 1.5-mile tracks," he said. "I don't think just one test is going to solve all of the problems. But I do think this will help, so I commend them for saying `Let's do something to try to make it better.' "
He said that by late in the afternoon session, drivers were running different lines.
"Charlotte has become a multi-groove track again," he said.
Kasey Kahne's idea for this test is simple. "My main goal is to try to figure out how to go as fast as Carl Edwards," he said. Edwards' No. 99 Ford has been exceptional on similar tracks this year.
Busch is the first-quarter winner in the Driver of the Year balloting by a panel of motorsports writers and broadcasters. He got 14 of 17 first-place votes and 142 points in the voting. Edwards got one first-place vote and 72 points. IndyCar's Danica Patrick got two first-place votes and 51 points to finish third, just ahead of NHRA's Ashley Force.
Today's testing is open to fans, and those attending will be offered the chance to participate in the annual "Royal Flush" at 5:30 p.m. Fans will be asked to flush some of the 1,200 toilet fixtures to simulate "peak demand" on the water-sewer systems. Those participating will get a "Royal Flush Society" T-shirt and $5 off a Coca-Cola 600 ticket bought while at the track.