Allmendinger walks away from owner

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- AJ Allmendinger and car owner Richard Petty had a heated exchange in the garage area at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.

Allmendinger pulled away from the seven-time NASCAR champion, turned his back on his boss and then stormed away from The King. Allmendinger declined to talk to reporters, but the executive vice president of Richard Petty Motorsports said his driver was merely frustrated by having a strong car and a poor finish.

"I always say the car owner shouldn't talk to the driver anytime after the race, especially after an accident," Petty VP Robbie Loomis said. "I think Richard's been here so many times, he's been through this stuff and he was just trying to get him to loosen up and let the boys do their stuff on fixing the car and getting back out there. Anytime you talk to somebody at the wrong time, it always causes discussion that needs to be worked out. That's all that happened."

Allmendinger was still hot when Loomis got to the garage a few minutes after the incident, which happened 66 laps into the 400-mile race.

"He's a hard-charging competitor and he's as passionate as anybody out there," Loomis said. "Unfortunately, two Daytona races with great cars and we haven't been able to bring the finish home."

Allmendinger led seven laps at Daytona International Speedway in February, but finished 32nd after brushing fenders with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

This time, Allmendinger swerved to avoid hitting Kyle Busch and spun into the infield. Busch, who overcame a loose wheel early in the race, later wrecked when he turned into Juan Pablo Montoya. His accident set off the loudest ovation of the race.

"I didn't turn right to wreck myself," Busch said. "Why would I do that? That's dumb. We had the fastest car out there. Another year here in Daytona being the fastest car."

Allmendinger may have felt the same way after his 36th-place finish.

"We'll be back," Loomis said. "It's unfortunate for AJ. He's such a fierce competitor. I can't describe how bad that guy wants to win and he will win. It's just a matter of when."