MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The tussle between Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon started on track but ended on pit road.
And there it will remain, both say.
Newman got up alongside of Gordon on Lap 493 of Sunday’s Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway and two fender-banging moves later passed him for second place on Lap 494. Newman was mounting a challenge for the lead when a caution on the final lap left him with a second-place finish. Gordon ended up third.
Since both finished in the top five, they had to stop their respective cars on pit road for post-race media obligations. After exiting his No. 24 Chevrolet, Gordon made his way over to Newman, who was awaiting a TV interview in front of his car.
“You know why I’m mad,” Gordon said as he approached. He asked Newman if he believed he gave Gordon enough room on the track.
“I know you’re mad, but I want you to know I didn’t do it to you on purpose,” Newman replied. “I gave you the little love tap. You made me drive up (in the gravel) on purpose.”
Said Gordon, “If I made you mad, you’d do the same thing.”
Newman answered, “I know. I know. We’re good. I appreciate you coming over.”
Gordon is in a tight race with race-winner and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for the Nextel Cup Series championship and every point is critical. Gordon was trying not only to get the victory but maintain some breathing space in the points race between himself and Johnson.
“My car wasn’t fast enough to be in second place at the time and (Newman) got in the back of me. We went down into the next corner and I gave him room on the inside and he just slammed right into me,” Gordon said.
“I didn’t know why at the time. I was just mad at the time. I ran into the back of him and got into him when the caution came out.
“It’s all good. Ryan and I have been racing good for the past several years and you understand that things like that happen in the heat of the battle in the last laps of the race. It’s important to talk about them.”
“We were angry with each other, but that’s just because we’re both trying to win,” Newman said. “He came over, we talked, everything’s good and we’re on to Atlanta.”
Sunday was the second consecutive week Newman – who missed qualifying for the Chase for the Nextel Cup – has found himself in position to get the victory and end his 77-race winless streak.
“We had a decent car all day and it was better out front when I was able to maneuver around the lapped traffic,” Newman said. “It’s when you do some beating and banging and don’t get turned around doing it.”