Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent more than two decades on the NASCAR track, competing alongside fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. The two experienced many memorable moments, with numerous instances going unnoticed. However, one of those situations recently resurfacing surprised Earnhardt Jr. to find out he angered the legendary driver.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s relationship with Jeff Gordon
Throughout much of Earnhardt Jr.‘s NASCAR career, he developed a strong competitive friendship with Gordon.
The latter spent his first years as the primary rival to Dale Earnhardt Sr. competing for Cup Series Championships. However, Dale Jr.’s ascension into NASCAR put him alongside Gordon.
Earnhardt Jr.’s path eventually led him to become teammates with the four-time Cup Series Champion after he departed from Dale Earnhardt Inc. He spent nearly a decade with Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports, where he credited him for helping him become a better driver.
During that span, the bond between them became more tightly knit. However, some tense moments came about on the track before becoming teammates, including one instance that Earnhardt Jr. had no inclination it had occurred.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. shocked to find out he pissed off Jeff Gordon at 2006 Daytona race
Two seasons before Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon became teammates; the two were involved in an interesting on-track mixup.
The incident came to light after a video surfaced from the Pepsi 400 at the Daytona International Speedway in 2006. The footage shows Earnhardt Jr. repeatedly giving Gordon’s rear bumper a tap multiple times.
After a few bumps from the No. 8 car, Gordon vented his frustration on the radio to his crew regarding the “love taps.” It wasn’t until Earnhardt Jr. recently saw the video on Twitter that he realized he pissed off the legendary driver and didn’t exactly help him.
“All those years I thought ‘I’m helping THE man, Jeff Gordon, this is awesome, I bet he appreciates me helping him,'” Earnhardt Jr. said on Twitter. “And now I learn you were up there having a tantrum.”
Gordon didn’t take long to issue a playful but serious response back to the fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer.
“Haha. I loved to push the talk button on the steering wheel and complain,” Gordon said. “Car was pretty free that day especially every time you pushed me into the corner. Could you not push on the straightaway?”
The 49-year-old’s vantage point is fair as an incorrect bump could have sent the No. 24 car into the wall or collide with another driver. Earnhardt Jr.’s intentions may have been well, but it’s a situation that could have gone south.
Ultimately, Gordon didn’t finish that race due to a crash, while Dale Jr. placed 13th.
Relationship continues to blossom
Over the years, the two continue to cultivate their strong friendship.
Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. share tremendous respect toward each other as their time together at Hendrick Motorsports only fueled that sentiment. That has grown stronger with both taking up respective gigs in the broadcast booth.
Gordon has been a fixture since the 2016 season for NASCAR on Fox. Meanwhile, Earnhardt Jr. has taken up that responsibility for NBC Sports beginning in the 2018 campaign. Gordon covers the first half of the season while Earnhardt Jr. works the second half.
Beyond that, the two are also prominent fixtures around the sports, and that won’t change anytime soon.