LOUDON, N.H. -- Jeff Gordon said he expects drivers to line up for shots at him after his aggressive run last Sunday at Infineon Raceway.
First in line might be Martin Truex Jr., whom Gordon wrecked while racing hard against Juan Pablo Montoya. Gordon said he "made a mistake" in Truex's case and left a phone message for the Toyota driver after the race.
Truex did not return the call.
"He left me a voice mail, but I still feel the same way," Truex told a group of reporters outside the New Hampshire media center. "I'm in the same position I was in then, so why should I feel any different? I accept his apology, yes, but things are going to change between me and him. That's the bottom line."
Truex, whose promising run at Sonoma degenerated into a 42nd-place finish, stopped short of saying he would wreck Gordon but insisted he would race the four-time champion differently from here on out.
"Am I going to do what he did to me?--I'm not going to stand here and say I am," Truex said. "I'm going to change the way I race him, yeah. I've always been very, very respectful. I just have never got that back. It's just one of those deals where you race with a guy like Mark Martin, and you run him down from a straightaway, and he lets you go because he doesn't want to hold himself up, but at the same time he's doing you a favor.
"You run Jeff down--if I run Jeff down from a straightaway--he races me like we're going for the win. When he catches me, I don't do that to him. It's little things like that that can make some people's world a living hell sometimes. There's been times when Jeff's caught me and never even gave me a chance to get out of the way. He just started running into me and he's the first guy to hang his middle finger out the window when he goes by you. Things are going to change, that's all I'm saying."
Gordon said he wasn't surprised Truex didn't call him back.
"I owed Martin that," Gordon said. "I owed him at least an apology, a phone call--and then some. So I genuinely felt terrible about what happened. I knew he wasn't going to call me back. I knew that it's going to be a long time, if ever, for him to forget about that. So, I did my part. I felt like I did the right thing, but I didn't expect anything in return."
Another driver who might like a shot at Gordon is Kurt Busch, but the driver of the No. 2 Penske Dodge doesn't consider himself a prime candidate.
"I would say that I'm in the line, but I'm not at the top of the list," said Busch, who finished 32nd Sunday after cutting a tire during hard racing with Gordon late in the event. "There are a lot of guys in front of me that want to go talk to Jeff 'Bulldozer' Gordon."
BURTON DECRIES 'UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR'
Rather than singling out Gordon for the wild racing at Sonoma, Jeff Burton slammed the entire field.
"Well I thought last week was horrendous," Burton said Friday before Sprint Cup practice. "I thought the behavior shown last week from driver to driver was completely unacceptable. If our sport is going to become that, then we need to change it from racing to demolition cars--because that wasn't racing last week. ...
"Ultimately, it's the drivers' responsibility to have some respect for each other. The last 10 laps of that race didn't look like we were the best drivers in this country--it looked like we were some of the worst drivers in this country. Again, it's just ridiculous."
JOHNSON WINS $100K GRANT
Jimmie Johnson's charitable project was the voters' choice for a $100,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The grant, announced Friday at New Hampshire, will provide financial relief to pediatric bone marrow transplant patients and their families as part of a Be The Match Foundation initiative.
After more than 500,000 votes were cast online, Johnson's project prevailed over ideas proposed by Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon received $25,000 for the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord, N.C., to support victims of physical and sexual abuse. Earnhardt received $25,000 toward the building of a computer lab at Shepherd Elementary School near his home in Mooresville, N.C.
Asked whether he was surprised to beat Earnhardt in a contest that involved fan votes, Johnson laughed.
"Yeah, that's the impressive underlying note in all this," he said. "I'm shocked, excited, and thrilled and can't thank my fans enough. I've been preaching that I have a strong fan base for a long time, and I'm glad to see the evidence."
SMITH WITH A SPLINT
Regan Smith is driving with a broken wrist this weekend after fracturing the scaphoid bone at the base of his left thumb during a wreck on Lap 67 of last Sunday's race. Smith has been fitted with a custom-molded splint.