The respect was there from the beginning, a carryover from years of competing against one another on the track.
The understanding has been a bit slower to materialize as the two former rivals became co-workers, but it's coming along nicely according to NASCAR on FOX analyst Jeff Gordon.
The four-time premier series champion, speaking Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, said there are no issues between himself and fellow NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip.
"We all understand the age difference and the different eras where we were dominant in our sport, but the respect that DW and I have for one another has always been there," Gordon, 44, said during an appearance to help promote this Sunday's STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Gordon retired from driving at the conclusion of the 2015 season with 93 victories to go along with his four titles. Waltrip, a staple in the FOX broadcast booth since 2001, ended his career with 84 wins and three championships.
"In the booth, even though we might not always agree on things, because we have common respect for one another … it probably took a little bit of time of that understanding and having more personal time together, at dinner and meetings and texting back and forth - but our relationship is great," Gordon said. "And I think we're having a lot of fun."
There have been differences of opinion, but Gordon said fans shouldn't read "controversy" into those situations.
When Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick pitted for tires and fuel under green and then inherited the lead in the Auto Club 400 thanks to a caution flag barely two laps after his stop, the question for Gordon and Waltrip was who benefited? Harvick because of the immediate gain in track position as those who hadn't previouly stopped came to pit road, or Jimmie Johnson, the race leader at the time of the caution, who restarted second after a two-tire change?
"I wouldn't call it a disagreement, but a difference of opinions," Gordon said of the conversation. "The nice thing … (whichever) one of us is right and one of us is wrong, we smile about it, pat one another on the back, make jabs about it and go on. I think at first fans were taking that maybe the wrong way or people at home were taking that as 'Oh man, these guys genuinely don't like one another.'
"No … we do have differences of how we see things and we're going to express that. But at the end of the day we're going to have fun and enjoy those differences and not take it personally."
The Auto Club Speedway discussion was similar to one just a few weeks earlier when rev limiters on the cars was the topic.
Waltrip, 69, later addressed that particular discussion in a posting on the FOXSports.com website.
"Some of you have tweeted suspecting there's friction, but trust me, you couldn't be more wrong," Waltrip wrote. "Just because we don't agree on everything doesn't mean I don't like him and he doesn't like me. Who wants a booth where they all think, sound and act alike? I sure don't."
With five races in the booth under his belt, Gordon is becoming more...
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