FORT WORTH TX - NOVEMBER 07: Denny Hamlin driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7 2010 in Fort Worth Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR In Texas: Denny Hamlin Wins, Takes Points Lead From Jimmie Johnson

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Jimmie Johnson Offers Thoughts On Pit Crew Swap: 'If Somebody's Feelings Got Hurt, That's Too Bad'

Here are some of Jimmie Johnson's comments about his pit crew being swapped with Jeff Gordon's crew in the middle of Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway:

It's something new, for sure. It's nothing we've done in the past. But I just watched the World Series and when a pitcher is not doing his job, they make a change and get someone in who can. We know our guys are capable of doing it. We know it's possible. We just had some things going on today that we couldn't rebound from and it really put us in a bad position on the racetrack and it kind of led to the bad result today.

With everything on the line, we've got to perform. We have to do our jobs. We've been having some issues and today wasn't going any better and with the No. 24 out of the race, it was a good opportunity for us to try it. It might be different to our sport in some ways, but we've seen (Richard) Childress and other teams flip-flop crews around all the time. Man, you watch pro sports and if people aren't getting the job done, you've got to pull them out and put someone else in.

I'm not sure what the implications will be through the shop. We've been lacking and we need to get it straightened out and it was a good wake-up call for the guys, if anything, to bring the No. 24 crew in and let them do their job and let them watch. I really do care for these guys with the bottom of my heart. They're my guys. But, man, we have to perform. We can't come down pit road and lose 10 spots every stop. That's just killing us.

I knew the possibility existed and at this point in the game, you can't have feelings. You have to go out and try to win the championship. And if somebody's feelings got hurt, that's too bad. We're here to win a championship and we've got to do everything we can."

We might not have the options that we want next week. These guys, I know they have it in them. A lot of these guys have won four championships with me. Some have won three. So I know they have it in them, but every once in a while an athlete gets something in the head that slows them down or makes them over-think things. I don't know what the issue was. I don't want to say too much because I don't know what the problem was in the pit stops but we've got to perform.

The alarm clock has been ringing for a while. It's been ringing. And this is a new level to that. But the alarm clock has been ringing for quite a few months.

There wasn't anything discussed beforehand, but when I saw the No. 24 tore up and I heard a little bit of pit chatter about collecting guys on the radio, I had a feeling what was coming.

Everybody has kind of known in the back of their minds through the summer and all that we've needed a little bit of help. We'll keep training and we'll keep working and we'll see what we get.

All I can do is give 100 percent on my side. I don't train the crew guys. I don't work on the car. There's only so much I can do. I'm going all I can and I know Chad (Knaus) is and I know these guys are. Even though today it was an embarrassing moment for my over-the-wall guys, they're giving all they can. Sometimes you just get beat. That's the way it is and today it just didn't work out.

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Kyle Busch: 'Sorry I Lost My Cool' In Texas Race

Kyle Busch apologized to his team and NASCAR for his midrace meltdown at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, which culminated with him flipping off a NASCAR official on national television.

Busch had been caught speeding while trying to beat the pace car off pit road and was therefore penalized one lap by NASCAR.

But when he pulled into his pit, ESPN's in-car camera showed Busch displaying his middle finger – and holding it up for several seconds – at the NASCAR official in his pit box.

He screamed obscenities on the team radio and crew chief Dave Rogers yelled back, attempting to calm him down. After NASCAR saw his "unsportsmanlike" gesture toward one of its officials, though, it slapped Busch with a two-lap penalty.

After the race, Busch said he regretted the incident.

"I'm sorry I lost my cool," he said, directing his apology to "everybody on this team, everybody at NASCAR and all my (sponsors) that support me."

Busch said he wasn't sure if the in-car camera was responsible for getting him penalized, but said in the heat of the moment, "I had no worries about a camera inside the car at that point."

The short-tempered Joe Gibbs Racing driver said he was frustrated after a sequence of events which had him get wrecked and then get caught speeding.

"You get spun out and wrecked like that and you're not supposed to lose your cool – I mean, hello," he said. "...I apologize to all of my guys for letting them down and for getting so behind today that we could never make it up."

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Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton Fight At Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR Race

Two of the least likely NASCAR drivers to have a physical confrontation did just that on Sunday afternoon, as Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton fought at Texas Motor Speedway after a mid-race wreck.

Burton had apparently crowded Gordon in Turn 4 just prior to a caution coming out, and Gordon took exception to the Richard Childress Racing driver's action, pulling his No. 24 car alongside the No. 31 to show his displeasure.

But when Burton responded by turning Gordon straight into the wall – under caution – a livid Gordon climbed out of his car and stormed down the backstretch to confront Burton.

Upon reaching the No. 31 car, Gordon violently shoved Burton and the two exchanged pushes and angry words – but no punches – before NASCAR officials intervened.

"Of all the people out there, I never thought that would happen with Jeff Burton," Gordon told ESPN afterward. "I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him, but I certainly lost a lot of respect today."

Gordon said he wanted to do more than just shove Burton, but got himself under control a little bit as he made the long walk from the wreckage of his No. 24 car to the site of where Burton's car was parked.

"I was walking toward him, and I started going through all the scenarios in my mind," Gordon said. "Thankfully, I had a long walk down there to him, because I did about the least amount I wanted to do.

"I wanted to show him how upset I was, but I wanted to do a whole lot more than that. I held back. I'm just still in disbelief."

Burton, respected as one of the classiest drivers off the track, took full responsibility for the wreck and apologized for the incident.

"He pulled up next to me to tell me he was upset with me," Burton told ESPN, recounting how the incident occurred. "Then I went to pull up next to him to acknowledge him, to say he was right. I turned left, and he was turning left, and we just hung up. And when we hung up, off we went.

"I honestly don't know what happened. One hundred percent, it was my fault. It was definitely my fault. We got together, I couldn't get off of him. I didn't mean to hit him, I meant to pull up next to him and tell him he was right."

Because he believed it was his fault, Burton didn't blame Gordon for shoving him.

"I knew he was going to be mad, and I don't blame him for being mad," Burton said. "He didn't do anything he shouldn't have done. He was upset, and he should have been upset. I wrecked him under caution – I didn't mean to wreck him, but I wrecked him under caution – and he meant to tell me he was upset.

"That's OK. I don't have a bit of problem with what he did. He was mad, and he should have been mad."

The drivers climbed into the same ambulance together after exchanging words and spoke more about the incident on the way to the infield care center.

"I like Jeff – he's a guy that's usually very rational and I respect his opinion," Gordon said. "He apologized and said it was his fault and said he didn't mean to do it. Whatever. It's over."

Said Burton: "We talked. He's still upset, and I don't blame him. He understands what happened more now."

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Chat Recap: See What Fans Had To Say About The Wild Texas Race, Denny Hamlin's Win

Denny Hamlin stepped up when it counted the most.

On a day that saw a wild race, including a middle finger (and penalty) from Kyle Busch, a fight between respected veterans Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton and a pit crew swap in the middle of the race, Hamlin earned the biggest headline of all.

Hamlin edged Matt Kenseth to win at Texas Motor Speedway, and took over the points lead from Jimmie Johnson. Heading into the final two races, Hamlin now leads Johnson by 33 points (Kevin Harvick is 59 points back).

Check out what fans had to say during the eventful Texas race by clicking on the comments section below.

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Short Runs: What NASCAR Drivers Are Saying Today At Texas Motor Speedway

Here's a sampling of what the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are talking about today at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Chase race:

DENNY HAMLIN

Q: Do you feel pressure to win the championship based on your time in this sport and your age?

Denny Hamlin: I don't know that my biological clock is ticking if that's what you're asking. No. I have a few good years left to get it done if we don't this year. For me, I feel like if we got the championship this year, it would be sooner than what I'd expect and probably younger in age than what I would expect.

It's simply because I hadn't been running in the Cup Series – this is my fifth year – I was running Late Models six years ago. I didn't have years and years of Nationwide Series experience and things like that, that a lot of guys had before they got to the Cup Series level.

I am still relatively new to this. That's why I feel like I've gotten so much better every year is because I've really got thrown into this not too long ago. There's no sense of urgency that I need to get it done this year because I feel like the best is still probably yet to come as far as my potential.

JEFF GORDON

Q: Have you gotten any flack from people thinking you weren't being honest about the engine problem at Talladega?

Jeff Gordon (looks surprised): Well, I've been out of the country this week. I'll be honest with you: My wife is turning 40, so we celebrated her birthday and I've been out of touch with everything until I got back last night. So, I haven't heard anything like that, but I laugh at it as you said it because trust me, in a situation like that, as much as I rode around the back all day, I was not about to lose that lead.

I still don't even know what happened to the engine or what was going on there and I'm anxious to know and talk to those guys. I'm just focused on Texas now and I can just promise you that there was no foul play there. I was doing everything I could to win that race.

KYLE BUSCH

Q: What do you think about your teammate running in championship contention with three races to go?

Kyle Busch: I think it's great for Joe Gibbs Racing and having a shot and having a car that's capable of winning the championship, but much more than that it doesn't matter to me.

JEFF BURTON

Q: What makes you say Denny Hamiln and Kevin Harvick have as good of a chance at the championship as Jimmie Johnson?

Jeff Burton: Because Jimmie winning the last four championships doesn't win him this one. His results over the last seven races and the upcoming three races will determine whether he wins or loses. The results of the other people are going to determine that.

If past success guaranteed you future success, then the same people would always win. You have to go out and earn it. You have to go out and do a better job than your competitors. Jimmie doesn't start this race with bonus points because he had four championships and the guys he's racing don't have any.

Certainly he has a statistical advantage because he has four championships, but perhaps he doesn't have a realistic advantage is that makes any sense. I'm probably not saying that well, but again, past success doesn't guarantee future success.

JIMMIE JOHNSON

Q: How do you view last year's Texas race to prepare for this year's race?

Jimmie Johnson: Everything that goes on in a driver's career, you learn from – especially the mistakes that you make. In my opinion, last year's crash started on Friday; I went out and had a very fast car and drove a conservative lap and ended up 12th.

If I would have gotten the car fully committed to running a hard lap, I could have been maybe on the pole or fifth or wherever it was and wouldn't have been where the issue took place on the racetrack.

You learn those lessons and those lessons have worked for me and are good for me, but every driver has his own style. ... Over the years, I've picked up my lessons along the way and know what I need to do and feel very confident with where I am mentally and what I need to do this weekend.

TONY STEWART

Q: Everybody has made comments about Jimmie Johnson like, "Anybody but the 48." Where do you think all that comes from?

Tony Stewart: I just laugh at everybody about it. The whole idea here is to go out and win races and win championships and the guy has been good at it for four years. So, I don't know how you can say the guy doing what he's supposed to do – and doing what all of us want to do – how you can say it's bad. That's where I stand on that.

CARL EDWARDS

Q: What do you think about NASCAR possibly preventing Cup drivers from winning the Nationwide title next season?

Carl Edwards: I don't know. I hope we can run for the championship. I am a principle-based person. It seems odd to make rules that keep certain drivers out, based on where they race.

I always think back to if I want to go race at my local dirt track, they don't treat me any differently. Right now Brad (Keselowski) is doing very well, but I am not dominating or anything like that. I hope we can run for the championship and do what has been done historically.

GREG BIFFLE

Q: Why do you think there is a sentiment that there should be a new champion?

Greg Biffle: I don't necessarily feel that way. Everybody looks at it as Jimmie has won four in a row and they maybe are ready for something new. In my eyes, the best team should win. Right now, there are three of them that are neck-and-neck in how they are performing and it is going to be close when it comes down to it. We will just have to wait and see.

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Three Drivers, Three To Go: Keeping Track Of NASCAR's Texas Weekend

Denny Hamlin stepped up when it counted the most.

On a day that saw a wild race, including a middle finger (and penalty) from Kyle Busch, a fight between respected veterans Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton and a pit crew swap in the middle of the race, Hamlin earned the biggest headline of all.

Hamlin edged Matt Kenseth to win at Texas Motor Speedway, and took over the points lead from Jimmie Johnson. Heading into the final two races, Hamlin now leads Johnson by 33 points (Kevin Harvick is 59 points back).

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