Gordon might be ready to make up with Kenseth

Updated: July 12, 2006, 7:47 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Maybe Jeff Gordon has had a change of heart.

When the four-time Cup champion arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Gordon said he was looking for Matt Kenseth -- and not just to push him out of the way like he did at the end of Sunday's race in Chicago.

"I'd certainly like to see him before I leave here," Gordon said before the third day of testing began. "I was hoping just to see him here because I figured we'd all be here."

One could only imagine how that conversation might go given recent history between the two former Cup winners.

In April, at Bristol, Kenseth, the 2003 Nextel Cup champion, spun out Gordon near the end of the race. Afterward, Gordon shoved Kenseth, drawing the wrath of NASCAR officials. Gordon was fined $10,000 and put on probation until Aug. 30.

Kenseth referred to that move Monday as an "accident."

On Sunday, Gordon retaliated by knocking Kenseth out of the way and then speeding around the outside to pass him. Gordon eventually won the race and later said he wasn't trying to wreck Kenseth.

In the days since, it's been the hot topic around all the garages. Even veterans Mark Martin and Jeff Burton have been drawn into the fray, and it clearly overshadowed the mediocre tests by both Kenseth and Gordon.

Kenseth's fastest lap of 177.357 was 22nd best Wednesday. Gordon managed to go 176.852, 30th, on a track where he's the series' only four-time winner.

But Kenseth showed his displeasure Monday when he arrived for the first of three days of testing on Indy's 2½-mile oval, calling Gordon's move intentional.

"With three laps to go, that was the easy way out," Kenseth said. "Jeff is smart, very smart -- and calculating. He knew he probably wouldn't wreck me or wreck himself."

Gordon, a four-time winner at Indianapolis, skipped the first day of testing and wasn't around when Tuesday's two sessions were rained out.

On Wednesday, Gordon reverted to a less confrontational tone even if it didn't come with the full-fledged apology that could end the dispute.

As he answered questions about driving tactics, the move of Juan Pablo Montoya from Formula One to NASCAR and this week's speculation that Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick also may be interested in switching series, Gordon also accepted the blame for Sunday's incident.

"I take full responsibility for it," Gordon said. "I know that I didn't intentionally try to wreck him. ... But if that little rubber touch that I thought was going to happen moved me up the track and had gotten me the position, then it wouldn't even be an issue right now."

To the consternation of both drivers, Sunday's finish has not faded away as they prepare for this weekend's race at New Hampshire.

While Kenseth has said he would rather avoid conflicts and controversy, he's increasingly become a target this season thanks to three high-profile incidents -- the two involving Gordon and a scrape at Daytona with Tony Stewart.

And now that Gordon is back in the top 10 in points, he would rather focus on driving than talking about sideshows.

"He had already shown me the sign a couple times of, you know, how hard he was going to fight for that position," Gordon said. "I definitely stepped up the aggressiveness a notch and obviously I got him and spun him. I didn't mean to spin him."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press