After contact with teammate Gordon in Monday's rain-delayed Sprint Cup Series race, Johnson cut a tire and lost a lap on Lap 272. Still, he battled back at the finish to contend for the win. One more lap in the Cup race and a different driver would have been donning a cowboy hat and six-shooters in Victory Lane.
Even following the confrontation with Gordon, Johnson was adamant not to read anything into it. Still, the champ admits he was "pretty disappointed" in how Gordon raced him.
"It's going to happen in racing," Johnson said. "Doesn't matter if it's teammates or not. There are just times where you're irritated by racing other guys. We will get to the bottom of it and sort it out. No need to play it out in the press and we'll get it taken care of at the shop and during the week and come back to the next race and do it again. I think we are both pretty frustrated with how we have been racing each other."
Gordon didn't hide his displeasure either. His comment on the radio, "I'm a little upset at him," was tongue in cheek. Gordon's next remark, "He must want to be treated different from everyone else," carried a bit more of the teammates' true feelings.
After Gordon's day ended early, he said Johnson ran into the back of the No. 24 "for no reason" and called his teammate "too aggressive".
"I'll get over it and so will he," Gordon said. "We'll talk about it. We are good enough friends, good enough teammates. It is more just the competitors in us coming out there and the aggressiveness of wanting to win. Not anything against one another."
Given Gordon's competitive nature, his frustration is not surprising. This season is starting to resemble the last four years where Johnson has dominated the Sprint Cup garage. Eight races into 2010, the No. 48 team has established a 108-point lead in the standings with three wins, five top-five and six top-10 finishes.
And while Gordon held on to fifth place in the point standings, the chasm between teammates now stands at 220 markers. It's been 37 races since Gordon's last win and he's won just one race in the last 85 events. Over that same period of time, Johnson has visited Victory Lane 21 times and sat at the champion's table each year.
So, is there cause for animosity? Absolutely. And Gordon felt particularly perturbed since his car was superior to Johnson's on Monday.
"He was just too loose," Gordon said. "He wasn't fast enough and my car was just so good I could just get right to his bumper and he got loose. I guess he thought I was being too aggressive.
"When you have a car like that, you don't (do that to) teammates and friends out there and race hard.
That is what Jimmie has had. And I am just excited that we have something to race with all of these guys out there right now."
Maybe Gordon needs to realize once the drivers strap into the cars, there are no friends on the race track. There are no teammates. The stronger his team becomes the more resistance he'll receive from the No. 48 squad.
There's a reason Johnson has won the championship the last four seasons -- he doesn't back down. While Gordon has appeared more aggressive this season, the gloves will have to come off to go toe to toe with Johnson.
If Gordon's going to upset the champ, he's in for a fight.