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Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson get into it with each other...looks like Gordon has a feisty new game plan

  That's Jeff Gordon sideways, with Carl Edwards (99) in his door. Not a good way to finish....but Tony Stewart (red car outside) took the blame for this one (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jimmie Johnson? Man, when you've got the horse, just ride it for all it's worth, and that's just what the Sprint Cup tour points leader is doing.
   Johnson came within three lengths of tripping up Denny Hamlin in Monday's Texas 500, and he added a few more points on second-place Matt Kenseth and third-place Greg Biffle, who both had problems in the final miles of the rain-postponed race.
   Texas Motor Speedway was about two-thirds full for the race on the first dry day since Friday, and NASCAR said that mean a crowd of about 92,200.
   Most of the pleasant, if cloudy, afternoon was Jeff Gordon's. He won here last spring, in a first, and he was by far the dominant player this time too, leading 124 of the 334 laps, far more than anyone else.
   But – and this has been the general late-race scenario at Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix too – a late race yellow, coupled with double-file restarts, and a mad rush for fresh tires led for chaos in the last few miles.
   Gordon opted for four tires, but that left him eighth for the restart with only 18 laps – 27 miles – to go.
   Tony Stewart opted for two tires, and he was falling back, and when he reached where Gordon was on the charge, they tangled, in a three-wide mess that involved Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Carl Edwards. How Johnson escaped the deal, well, that's just been his luck this spring.
    "We had that left-front tire go down, and we were fortunate enough to catch a caution when we did," Johnson said.
    "At the end the car was just dragging the nose too bad for the first couple of laps. I think we sat too long and the front tire pressures dropped.
     "I lost a few spots; I almost hit the wall down in one and two trying to work the top.
     "Once those front tire pressures came in and the splitter got off the ground, I started coming. But it was like a lap too late."
     Yes, a lap or two more and Johnson would very likely have had his fourth win of the season. He's won three times and could have won three more, in the year's first eight races.
    Teammate Gordon had a lightning car, and he drove it hard, harder than perhaps anyone expected. But then that's been Gordon's modus this spring – he's an angry man out there on the track...and this time his vengeance was aimed squarely at Johnson, in a 195-mph replay at times of their famous Martinsville duel a few years back.
   And each was clearly angry at the other, particularly for the body-slam Gordon threw at Johnson in a pass at one point.
   "He was real loose, and I got to him, and I got underneath me, and he raced me hard," Gordon said of that incident.
    "I slid up in front of him a little bit. Maybe that was it. He ran in to the back of me for no reason.
    "Later he got out ahead of me after a pit stop, or on a restart. But he was just too loose; he wasn't fast enough. And my car was so good I could just get right to his bumper...and he got loose.
     "I guess he thought I was being too aggressive. He just drove into my door.
     "When you have a car like I had, you don't have teammates and friends out there, and you race hard."
    Then Gordon threw a jab: "I am disappointed (in Johnson).
     "But I'll get over it...and so will he. We'll talk about it.
      "We are good enough friends.
      "It is more just the aggressiveness of wanting to win."
      Johnson's take: "I am pretty disappointed in how he was racing me...but we will get to the bottom of it and sort it out.
    "No need to play it out in the press; we'll get it taken care of at the shop during the week.
    "I think we are both pretty frustrated with how we have been racing each other.
      "There was some things today I wasn't real pleased with, so when I had a chance to express myself, I did."


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   Jimmie Johnson (48) and Jeff Gordon (24) didn't play nice in Monday's Texas 500. Gordon had the car to win, and didn't. Johnson rallied to finish second (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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