Earnhardt Jr., Martin Feud at MIS

M.Martin-Earnhardt Jr.

Teammates Martin (5) and Earnhardt Jr. (88) tangled at the end of Sunday's race in Michigan. (Photo: Getty Images)


Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye at the end of Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The Hendrick Motorsports stablemates made contact with each other in the closing laps of Sunday’s race, with Earnhardt hitting the wall hard enough to bring out the fifth and final caution flag of the day.

It ended any hope Earnhardt had of wiping out his three-year winless drought and doomed him to a 21st-place finish with his battered No. 88 Chevrolet.  While Martin went on to score a Top-10 finish, his teammate was fuming at the turn of events.

“I try really hard to take care of people and try not to be careless, and I don't like putting up with carelessness out there,” Earnhardt said.  “I got on the outside of Mark, and he just came on up and drove us into the fence off the corner.

“I don't know if his spotter wasn't spotting good or whether he just couldn't see or what, but just ran us slap into the wall.  I don't know how else to explain it.”

Earnhardt had a good car and with the fuel strategy that was starting to play out for the team, it looked like he would have a chance to go to Victory Lane for the first time since June 2008.  That all vanished with the Martin incident.

“He didn’t know I was on the outside,” Earnhardt Jr. said.  “He come up there, he knew I was up there, but he was just running hard.  If the tables were turned, I would have been smarter and given him plenty of room.  He's older than me, been racing forever and knows a lot more than I’ll ever get ... or he has forgotten more stuff than I’ll never know.  Still, I take better care of people than that.”

Martin apologized almost immediately after the race and said he simply made a mistake in judgment on the track.

“I don’t have a history of having problems,” Martin said.  “I don’t think I have one now.  I think we will get it sorted out.  I feel like I give everybody on the racetrack respect.  I made a mistake.”

Once he was able to cool off and learn of Martin’s apology, Earnhardt had a different take on the situation and although remaining disappointed, he was at least less frustrated.

“I want to finish where I’m supposed to finish and that really didn’t happen,” Earnhardt Jr. said.  "Mark came and gave me a good explanation, and I believe it and it’s the end of it.  He was off the gas when we got together.  There was nothing he could do."

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