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Hard feelings linger after Martinsville incidents

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Hard racing on a short track left some drivers still trying to sort out hard feelings as NASCAR's top series moved to Texas Motor Speedway.

Contact last weekend at Martinsville Speedway involving Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers resulted in a few frayed nerves and one driver spinning another after the checkered flag. Earlier, Vickers had been in a group battling for position that resulted in Patrick spinning Dale Earnhardt Jr. Harvick later punted the No. 55 car at the finish after he, Patrick and Vickers leaned on one another going for 11th place off the final corner.

Friday in Fort Worth, it was clear that emotions had cooled, although drivers were still trying to sort things out. Vickers -- this week beginning his stint as fill-in for the injured Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 car -- said he called Harvick and didn't get an answer, although the two had texted a few times.

"We were on a different page to start with, and I think we ended closer to the same page," Vickers said. "Maybe not quite where we need to be. I'd like to spend a few minutes with him. He was somehow under the impression that I put him three-wide on a restart, but the reality is, I started on the inside and he started on the outside, and passed me and put himself three-wide. I didn't have anything to do with that. He took his frustrations out on us. It's unfortunate. It didn't cost us anything in the race, but it tore our car up. I hate it for the team. This stuff is unnecessary. But I guess it's Martinsville racing, right?"

Friday, Harvick had larger concerns -- his engine expired in final practice, which will force him to start Saturday night's event from the rear. Harvick has spoken with Patrick, who finished a surprising 12th in her first Martinsville event. Patrick, Vickers and Harvick crossed the finish line three-wide, with the No. 10 car on top and Vickers in the middle. Right after the trio took the checkered flag, Harvick sent Vickers spinning.

"I said thanks, because it looked like he was giving me a hand there with someone that was a little upset," Patrick said of her conversation with Harvick. "He was a little upset with (Vickers), too. I think there were a lot of people upset with Vickers after Martinsville. I don't know. I haven't raced with him very much, so I'm getting on with my day. You saw what happened, and like I was told by a couple of people, I just got hit, and I did. At least I only lost one spot."

To Vickers, it was just hard racing on a short track. He said all is OK between him and Earnhardt, who was battling a loose track bar and just holding on late in the race. But Vickers was running close behind Patrick when the earlier contact with the No. 88 car occurred, and initially took some grief from television analysts for sparking the event. Friday, he relayed his side of the situation to reporters in Texas.

"We all understand, it's just racing at Martinsville," Vickers said. "We all went in there and everybody kind of slammed on brakes, and (Patrick) got a little loose and the 43 (car of Aric Almirola) got me, and I got her. ? I just wanted to kind of clarify that. ? I spoke to Junior this week, and he was fine. He understood it's Martinsville racing. I think he had a broken track bar, and they were just hanging on for dear life. But none of it obviously was intentional. I want to go out there and do the best I can and win. I've got to race hard, but we want to earn respect the right way."

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