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At the April race with Hendrick, for the first time since the 2004 plane crash, were the widows of Hendrick's brother and the DuPont executive.
"We were all wanting to win more than anything, more than any championship. The 200th win at Martinsville meant so much to all of us because we lost so much there," Hendrick said Friday. "And that was taken away from us. Both of our cars were wrecked on the last lap and next to last lap and it was by the 15 car (Bowyer). I have never hurt as bad in my life leaving the race track as I did that day. It took me a week or so to get over it just because we had it in our grasp. And that's just emotions that we carry and nobody else. So I think that situation, along with some other things that happened along the way, you know, you don't forget it."
Bowyer and Gordon spoke at the track that day, and Bowyer texted Hendrick after the race. The two drivers have had other on-track incidents between them this season, including another run-in at Martinsville last month, but they had a conversation after that, too.
But something made Gordon snap late in Sunday at Phoenix, when enough was finally enough when he and Bowyer got together. When Gordon retaliated, it mathematically eliminated Bowyer from championship contention, but Gordon said Bowyer has to accept responsibility for putting himself in that position.
"If you're contending for the championship, you've got to be as smart about the things you do on the race track as the guys that you're racing that might be outside the championship," Gordon said. "And there was absolutely no reason to run into me."
Bowyer was still angry Friday about the Phoenix incident and didn't want to discuss Gordon.
"I don't want to talk about it. I really don't," he said as he walked from pit road to his team hauler.
Asked how long it would take for him to get past his anger, Bowyer said he didn't know, "It'll be a while." And when told he's not one to usually hold a grudge, he replied, "I'm usually not a guy that usually causes any trouble, either."
The only thing Gordon feels badly about is Logano getting collected in the accident. He said he spoke to Logano on the phone and "I can't say it went exactly very well" and he'd like to follow-up at the track.
Logano agreed the call did not go well.
"I reached out for an apology and I didn't get one, and I got hung up on," Logano said. "But he did text me, and I'm sure we'll meet up at some point. We're going to be able to go out and figure it out. We're big boys."
As for what's next, Gordon doesn't know. But he understands the attention on the incident with Bowyer, and the effect it might have on the season finale.
"I would tune in the following Sunday and see what happens," he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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