Jeff Gordon takes blame for Martin Truex accident, but offers no apologies to Kurt Busch

By Jenna Fryer, AP
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gordon apologizes _ sort of _ for aggressive day

SONOMA, Calif. — With nine career victories at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, Jeff Gordon is considered one of the best road course racers in NASCAR.

So it was strange to see him seem so out-of-control Sunday at Infineon Raceway, where he bulldozed his way to a fifth-place finish and admitted he was overly aggressive at times.

One of those times led to a race-ending wreck for Martin Truex Jr., and Gordon apologized for his role in the accident.

“There are some things that I’m not proud of that I did today, certainly with Martin,” he said. “I mean, I completely messed that up and I will try to patch that up. Other things that happened out there were just really hard racing incidents.”

Many other drivers had issues with Gordon, including Elliott Sadler, who blamed Gordon for wrecking his run.

“We got taken out by Gordon and it’s just frustrating,” Sadler said. “It’s a shame. He took out Martin Truex for no reason. (Bowyer) and me were side-by-side and he got two-for-one there, so he was just kind of knocking everything out of his way.”

Also annoyed with Gordon was Kurt Busch, who finished 32nd and said contact from Gordon cut his right-rear tire.

But Gordon was unapologetic for that one.

“Kurt Busch had everything coming to him that I gave him because he gave it to me on the restart before that, so I don’t feel sorry about that,” Gordon said. “I certainly do with Martin. With Elliott, I feel bad. I was racing him hard, he was blocking me but he was trying to race somebody else, too.

“That was probably my fault as well.”

TICKED-OFF TRUEX: Although Gordon accepted responsibility for ruining Truex’s race, it may take some time for Truex to forgive the four-time series champion.

Truex was running inside the top 10 when Gordon spun him, causing him to drop back into traffic, where he was caught in a multi-car accident.

“I guess Jeff figured if he couldn’t catch us on the racetrack he was going to spin us out on the restart,” Truex said. “How many times have I spun Jeff Gordon out? How many times have I spun anybody out? I lifted for them guys on those restarts; they get all stupid and crazy and wild, and I lift and wait and they just run into you. It’s stupid.”

Truex also indicated he had no interest in hearing Gordon’s explanation.

“I know he’s going to say, ‘Well, Juan (Pablo Montoya) was trying to pass me and I was trying to block him.’” Truex said. “I don’t care. Just because he’s trying to pass you, it’s all right for you to spin me out? No. Let him pass you, then.”

Truex vowed on his radio to seek revenge against both Gordon and Montoya, but wouldn’t reiterate the promise when asked about it later.

“We’ll see,” he said.

SUPRISINGLY SOLID DAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls no punches about his dislike of Sonoma, where he’s never cracked the top-10 and was involved in a fiery 2004 crash in a sports car race that left him with burn scars.

So he was pleasantly surprised Sunday when he tied his career-best Sonoma finish of 11th.

“I just took care of my car the first half of the race and at then end, I just kind of jumped in the fire and hoped for the best and it worked out,” Earnhardt said. “It was a good day for us. I don’t get that pumped up about it — I just get relief to be able to go home and not be ticked off.”

The decent finish moved Earnhardt up to 13th in the standings and just 57 points out of the 12th and final qualifying position for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

LONG DAY FOR DENNY: Denny Hamlin’s hot streak came to an end Sunday when he finished 34th at Sonoma, snapping his run of two consecutive victories.

“We hit everything but the lottery,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

Hamlin had all kinds of issues beginning fairly early in the race, and his day finally exploded when his hood sailed up and blocked his view while out on the track. He had to listen to his spotter coax him around the 10-turn track and into the pits for repairs.

“Tough day, but it happens,” he said. “All you can do is get back to it next week and we like going to New Hampshire. We’ll put this behind us.”

PIT STOPS: Jimmie Johnson’s victory was the 51st of his career and broke a tie with Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett for sole possession of 10th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list. It also crossed Sonoma off his list of active Cup tracks where he’s never won, leaving only Chicago, Homestead, Michigan and Watkins Glen remaining. … Johnson’s win was the first for Hendrick Motorsports since Bristol in March. … The race had a record nine lead changes.

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