Sunday's fourth-place finish was just what Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed to stop a tailspin that started two weeks ago at Pocono, but the race wasn't without controversy for the sport's perennial most popular driver.
Yes, Earnhardt eliminated the sorts of mistakes that cost him last week at Watkins Glen (where he overdrove the inner loop and spun out late in the race) and this week at Michigan (where he wrecked his primary car in Saturday's final practice and was forced to start Sunday's event from the rear in a backup.
But Earnhardt rankled teammate Jeff Gordon after a restart midway through the race. In Gordon's view, Earnhardt took him four-wide in the corner and came up the track in front of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, causing him to lose momentum.
"The (expletive) 88 can thank me later for not wrecking him," Gordon told his spotter on the radio.
"Wreck me?!" retorted an incredulous Earnhardt after he got the message. ". . . I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry if I did something."
Gordon indicated there are lines you shouldn't cross.
"I just didn't think that it was the smartest thing to do, especially as teammates," he said. "But he chose to do it and that's fine. It all worked out. I don't care who I'm racing out there; I'm going to show my displeasure if I'm not happy about something."