Old man, eh?

Danica Patrick sits in the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet before the start of practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Crew chief Tony Gibson is accustomed to calling his drivers “old man” on the radio. The team made light of it when Gibson was working with 50-something Mark Martin.

It might now work so well, however, in Gibson’s new capacity as Danica Patrick’s crew chief, a role that starts with the AAA Texas 500 Cup race this weekend and will continue next season.

Gibson said Friday that he’s not sure how or why he uses that expression.

“I don’t know — it slips out,” Gibson said Friday at Texas. “I don’t really know why I say that. For years it’s just been what I say. I’m not sure where that came from, to be honest with you.”

“I don’t mind,” Patrick said agreeably.

“If I do say that, I’m sorry, and I don’t mean it,” Gibson told Patrick. “I was Mark Martin’s crew chief and everybody is like ‘Man, that is really insulting to him.’ I’m like, ‘I have no idea. I don’t realize I’m saying it to him.’

“It was a big joke. I was the crew chief for Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., and it was the same way. I don’t know. It just comes out so I’m probably going to say it a few times, but if I do, I’m sorry — forgive me. As long as we’re successful, we can call each other what we want to.”

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