Jimmie Johnson is used to drawing the ire of NASCAR fans; it's sort of an occupational hazard when you win with the frequency he does.
For the most part, it rarely bothers him. But on Monday following his victory at Martinsville Speedway, where late in the race Johnson lapped his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he had spun out, Johnson had enough of the criticism and fired back on Twitter.
"You haters have it right," Johnson tweeted, "I'm a bad teammate, I have a cheated up car, I'm lucky and the race was fixed. Gotta love twitter (sic) and (hashtag) NASCAR Fans."
Johnson explained the meaning of the tweet Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, saying that part of his personality is to have "fun" with those who have such strong animosity towards him.
"I saw a theme developing and I just felt like having a little fun with it and kind of stirring the pot," he said. "It's funny after that tweet I haven't had much negative coming in."
What particularly stung Johnson were the fans who continually referred to him as a bad teammate for not allowing Earnhardt to keep his position on the lead lap. But if Johnson had come to a stop on the track to let Earnhardt by, he would have likely lost his lead because NASCAR requires all cars to maintain reasonable speed during cautions.
And with a dominant car in the lead with less than 100 laps to go, it was a risk Johnson, understandably, wasn't going to take.
"I just assumed he was backing up to let me go through," he said. "After talking to him and Stevie (Letarte, 88 crew chief), really the situation, I was just trying to get going and would liked to have not put him down a lap, but there is no fault held there by what I did.
"Again, I thought he was backing up to get out of the way."
Earnhardt backed his teammate on Thursday saying he would have done the same thing if he had been in a similar position and he wasn't angry that Johnson put him a lap down.
"I would have done the same thing Jimmie did," Earnhardt said. "I'm leading the race; I've got to think about my team and my car and what I'm trying to do."
But even Earnhardt coming to his defense won't likely increase Johnson's popularity anytime soon, which means confrontations with his "haters" will likely persist.
And if that happens, look for the five-time champ to continue engaging those who voice their displeasure with how he conducts himself.
"I've been in the sport long enough to know that people are going to say whatever they want, especially hiding behind their laptop or their phone," he said. "You just have to take it with a grain of salt.
"Honestly, I was just having fun and just kind of stirring the pot. If they are going to say those types of things then I'm going to play into it and get a good laugh out of it."