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Gordon Puzzled by Montoya’s Abuse

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, October 26 2009
Juan Pablo Montoya closes in on the rear bumper of Jeff Gordon's car during Sunday's race at Martinsville.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Juan Pablo Montoya closes in on the rear bumper of Jeff Gordon's car during Sunday's race at Martinsville. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Jeff Gordon was a puzzled as he got out of his car following Sunday’s Tums Rapid Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He felt he was being punish during the race, but he wasn’t sure what crime he had committed.

All he could do was consider the source of the of punishment – fellow driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

“He’s an aggressive driver,” Gordon said of the native Colombian who now drives the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “We’ve seen it from him before. I thought I did something to make him mad because I didn’t understand why he was just driving into me for no reason.”

Montoya massaged the bodywork of Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports car more than once during the race which marked the halfway point of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Never quite to the point where Gordon was spun – he did finish in fifth – but enough to get the four-time champion and Chase contender’s attention and goat: Over his radio, Gordon sounded fairly steamed at the guy who once let him drive his Formula One car.

After the race, it was apparent that the cool-down lap did its job – on the car and the driver. Gordon was more philosophical than angry as he talked about the race and Montoya.

“Hey, that’s Martinsville,” he said. “That’s kind of the way he drives. And I just tried not to make him mad anymore and race him as clean as I could. And unfortunately my car wasn’t as good on the restarts and he got by me and we had a great battle for third and we raced clean at the end and that’s all that really matters. I hope it’s not something that transfers over because I don’t know really what I did if I did do something.”

Montoya proved quite happy to explain it all after the race. Gordon, Montoya said, was just getting was he has been giving.

“It’s just every time we’ve been around racing against him, he runs the hell out of me,” Montoya, who finished third Sunday, said. “He moved me out of the way before, and he was starting to do the same here today. You know, I was running the outside of him, and every time he was just getting wider and wider.”

Montoya said that he and Gordon talked after the race. They let each other know that they both still have a chance to win the Chase, and, “We’re good,” Montoya said.

Montoya then added an addendum to the remark about he and Gordon being “good”.

“It got to a point, it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m here, and you’re not going to push me around.’ You know what I mean?  If you give me room, I’ll give you room.  He wasn’t giving me any, so I played the same game,” Montoya said.

“I talked got on the radio and said to the spotter, ‘Look, tell him if he comes I’m going to give him space, but I hope he does the same.’ Right at the end we ran together and he gave me room and I gave him room.  I mean, you can do it.  It’s just you’ve got to be – sometimes you’ve got to set a precedent so people back off a little.”

The two had better get into a forgiving state of mind really quickly as this weekend’s race is at a place where feuds can injure people quite badly – Talladega Superspeedway.

“It’s OK,” Montoya said. “I never really had a big problem with him, but he’s always so hard to race against. But he probably says the same thing against me, because he never gave me any room, why am I going to give him any.  It’s a vicious circle.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, October 26 2009
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  • Lephturn says:

    Good to have an aggressive driver like JPM out there not taking any crap.

    JPM was 1/2 the show at Martinsville – need more like him.