Nothing like a little post-race altercation to get NASCAR’s Chase under way.
Kevin Harvick, the 2014 champion, and six-time title winner Jimmie Johnson were the principles Sunday after the myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Harvick was unhappy with Johnson, whom Harvick felt set in motion a string of events that led to a crash that put Harvick out of contention in the first race of NASCAR’s playoffs.
After the race, Harvick was so irate that he approached Johnson in the drivers’ motor home lot and punched him in the chest. That was about it, after two people, including Harvick’s wife, Delana, intervened. Harvick continued to gesture at Johnson, who walked away with an irritated look on his face.
The chain of events began during a restart on Lap 135, when Joey Logano made contact with Johnson’s Chevy, which then hit the side of Harvick’s car. The hit damaged the left front fender of Harvick’s Chevy, causing a tire rub. The rub soon turned into a blown tire. On Lap 138, Harvick spun and hit the wall. He had to go to the garage for several laps, eventually finishing 58 laps down and in 42nd place.
It was no way to start defense of Harvick’s championship.
“(Johnson and Logano) must have gotten together and had a good run-up,” Harvick said. “But I just held my ground and he just slammed into the side of the door like I wasn’t even there. I guess he just figured that he’d come up the race track.”
Johnson, who finished 11th, pleads innocent. Logano says that he had nothing to do with the incident.
“I assume he would try to find it is my fault,” said Johnson, who finished 11th. “I just simply needed the lane to get back on the racetrack. By no means was I trying to do anything different. I’ve seen him on the flat working his way back up looking for a racing lane. That is what I was doing. I was on the bottom trying to get back up on the racing surface, and he was trying to pin me down and I had to get back up or else it would have been a hell of a mess.
“He didn’t leave me any space. He was pinning me down and I had to get back up on the track. I wouldn’t say that what he did was any different than other situations I’ve been in like that. When you are in his position, you want to get the inside car in a bad angle so they have to lift. I was fine with lifting, but I had to get back on the race track, so I worked my way back up on the track.”