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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:00 pm

Earnhardt had no problem being passed by Johnson


Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fans might not have liked it, but the driver himself has no issue with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for passing him under caution at Martinsville.

Earnhardt said Thursday he would have done the same thing in the same situation.

Johnson was leading last Sunday when Earnhardt's car spun out and brought out the caution. Johnson did try to slow down when his No. 48 got near where Earnhardt was, but eventually went around Earnhardt and put the No. 88 down another lap.

"He did actually try to slow down, and I think that he saw that I had two left-side flat tires and it was pretty pointless for him to wait," Earnhardt said before a testing session at Texas Motor Speedway. "If he stopped at all, the guys behind him would have been able to pass him for that position. He couldn't give up that opportunity or take that chance, or take that risk."

Johnson did go on to win the race with a career-high 346 laps led, moving up from third to take over the Sprint Cup points lead.

Earnhardt, who went into Martinsville as the points leader after finishing seventh or better in each of the first five races, finished 24th and two laps behind his teammate. He slipped to third in points.

"We shouldn't have been back there in the first place and been in that position to be run over," Earnhardt said. "But unfortunately it was just a bad day for us and it just seemed to get worse. But he wasn't doing anything that he wasn't supposed to be doing. The guy is leading the race, you know. He's got to take care of what he's doing. He's got a race to win."

There was so much reaction on social media about what Johnson did that he responded on Twitter the day after the race.

"You haters have it right. I'm a bad teammate, I have a cheated up car, I'm lucky and the race was fixed. Gotta love twitter & (hash)NascarFans," read Johnson's tweet Monday.

Earnhardt made it clear Thursday that he had no problems with Johnson.

"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. I don't think he did it out of spite or anything like that. He just was driving his race."