By Pete Pistone
The rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch boiled over Saturday night in Richmond with a pair of on track incidents and another war of words after the checkered flag flew.
Busch began the fireworks when he slid into Johnson as the pair raced through turns three and four on lap 186.
Johnson’s car slid into the outside wall and was heavily damaged, sending the five-time champion to the garage area for repairs.
When he returned to the track several laps down he eventually hunted down Busch and turned him around racing out of turn one on lap 246 to settle the score.
While Busch was able to recover and finish fifth, Johnson was left with a 31st finishing position and much anger toward the driver of the Penske Racing Dodge.
“He has no one to be upset with except himself. If he didn’t run me over going into turn one, nothing would have happened,” Johnson said.
“We were at Atlanta and raced just fine with one another, passed each other on the track and everything was great and I had passed him a couple of times tonight without any issues and then we go into Turn 1 and I get run over and it damages my car. So at that point, I’m going to equal the scale out and settle the score. Simple stuff: You wreck me, I wreck you.”
Despite the two making contact on track at Pocono last month and then exchanging heated words afterward, Johnson thought things had calmed down between the duo.
“I’ve worked very hard to not have any contact with him,” Johnson said. “And even the Pocono thing; I made a move to break draft. I didn’t touch his car; he instigated and ran over the side of me. So if he can stop running into my Lowe’s Chevrolet, everything would be just fine.”
Busch gave his view of the situation after he climbed from his racecar Saturday night.
“When he came back to us, you could see it coming,” Busch said. “That’s not something you see from Jimmie Johnson every day so I know we’re in his head. If we’re going to race this way, he’s got to worry that there’s ten other guys in this Chase, not just the 22.”
But Busch’s anger raged further as the night went on when he first confronted a reporter asking about the incident on pit road and later lashed out again in the media center during his post race interview.
“He’s got to learn to race,” Busch said angrily, denying he said anything about getting inside Johnson’s head and then tearing the post-race transcripts with those quotes in half when they were given to him by another reporter. “He’s been able to beat guys the last five years just by outdriving them with what he has for equipment. If he wants to switch equipment, lets see what we can do but I’m going to beat him fair and square with my Penske Dodge.”
Johnson said he’d be willing to discuss the matter with Busch but was not confident about the outcome.“I’m sure he’s going to have plenty of fine words to say to me when I do see him – he spun me and I had to turn him back around, that’s just how it goes,” Johnson said. “He’s always going to run his mouth.
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