Nearly every week, anyone who scans Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team radio can eavesdrop on a not-so-pleasant conversation between NASCAR's most popular driver and his crew chief, Lance McGrew.
When things aren't going right during a race, the duo often snaps at one another and the conversations can sometimes sound – at least to outsiders – like an all-out fight.
But Earnhardt Jr. said on Friday that his radio exchanges with McGrew sound worse than they really are.
"I have a hard time biting my tongue and always want the last word and all that good stuff," said Earnhardt Jr., who is mild-mannered outside of the car. "And I'm in 120-degree hot car and at the moment I feel like I'm doing the majority of the work. And right or wrong, I'm just saying that's how you feel, whether it's right or wrong."
Earnhardt Jr. said he and McGrew have improved their communication the longer they work together, adding that their working relationship has "survived" a recent rough stretch on the track.
"I like holding him accountable," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And I want him to do the same to me. I like getting that same pressure. I want him to ask me, 'What was the deal right there? Why did you do that? Why did you make that decision?'
"It makes me a better driver when I put myself in a situation to think the process out and figure out if there was a better way to do it or a better decision to make. I don't like arguing too much but when you're in a hot race car and you're not leading the race by half a lap, you're going to argue. You're not going to be happy until you're just dominating and dominating."
But does it have any residual effect on their relationship? Does Earnhardt Jr. stay mad at McGrew after the race is over?
"I don't even remember what I've done or said after a race," he said. "For some reason you're so plugged into hitting the corner and you forget about any exchange over the last caution, whether it was good or bad or whatever."