In his first race with a new crew chief, Jimmie Johnson started ninth at Watkins Glen Sunday and ran inside the top 10 most of the day searching for a decent finish to earn a spot inside the top 16 in points for the Playoffs.
On lap 62 however, entering the bus stop, Ryan Blaney got under Johnson with Johnson ending up spinning into the wall in the carousal. After the race the normally easygoing 7-time NASCAR champion seemed none too pleased with Blaney. Johnson said Blaney tried to talk to him after it was over.
“I was trying to hear what he was trying to say but his lips are quivering so bad that he can’t even speak,” Johnson said. “I guess he’s nervous or scared or both.
“He just drove through me…and spun me out. And clearly that has big implications with what we are trying to do for the Playoffs tight now, so clearly not happy with his actions”.
He then added a somewhat dire warning.
“He claims it was racing,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait to go race him. Everybody stay tuned.”
For his part, Blaney couldn’t understand the issue.
“It was just racing,” Blaney said. “He had old tires. They just did gas only and he was pretty slow and I passed 10 guys off the bus stop all day. He hit the third curb pretty bad and got in that position and he was up and I had a good run. I was there. He left probably a lane-and-a-quarter or so, and I took it. At first he didn’t turn down like I thought he knew I was there, and then he kept coming. I tried to check up and it was just too late. I mean, obviously, I didn’t mean to spin him out. I don’t want to do that.”
Blaney added however, that he understood Johnson’s demeanor.
“He’s angry,” Blaney said. “I can’t blame him for being angry. He’s trying to get in the Playoffs right now and have good runs. Trust me, the last guy I want to spin out is Jimmie. We always race great together. I’ve looked up to him for a long time and still do, and he’s the last guy I want to spin out. It didn’t end well. He wasn’t happy and I can’t blame him. He’ll probably race me pretty hard here for the next few weeks, but I can’t blame him for that. It was definitely not my intention there.”
Blaney finished fifth while Johnson would rally to finish 19th and combined with a poor result from his nearest competitor in the standings, Ryan Newman who finished 25th, Johnson leaves Watkins Glen tied for 16th in points but winning a tiebreaker due to finishes.