“Well, we had 398 other laps and with the way that we raced each other. I got into one hot, locked up my left fronts, slid up into ‘em. And then you could just see the payback coming from a five-time chump. So this is where we stand. Cars that are racing, cars have been wrecked. We have a Chase to start to let’s begin.” – _Kurt Busch, fifth, on his run-in(s) with Jimmie Johnson._
It’s no secret in the NASCAR garage that Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch get along as well as oil and water. Since Pocono, the feud between these two has been simmering, and at Richmond Saturday night, everything came to a head. The Lap 186 incident between Busch and Johnson was clearly unintentional, as it was visible that Busch locked up the wheels to try and avoid hitting the No. 48. Jimmie uncharacteristically retaliated sixty laps later, ruining his car in the process. At least in the court of public opinion, Kurt Busch again comes out the winner as Johnson’s actions and reactions came across as sour grapes. One really must wonder if Kurt Busch has finally succeeded at being the one guy to get in Johnson’s head, where so many others have tried and failed.
“Okay; I got run over going into Turn 1. If you’re going to spin me out, I’m going to spin you out. It’s just part of it. I’m sure I’ll go find him and talk to him and he’ll run his mouth and we’ll go from there. So we’ll see what happens. I’ve worked very hard to not have any contact with him. 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.” – Jimmie Johnson, 31st, on his latest episode with Kurt Busch.
If Johnson ever admitted fault for anything and actually bothered to look at the video evidence of the first incident, perhaps he wouldn’t have retaliated at Busch on Saturday night. It was clear as day that Busch did everything he could to stay off of Jimmie, but Johnson decided to repay him 60 laps later and trash his car in the process. Plus, in the post-race interview, he came across looking very bad, blaming everyone but himself. It certainly seems like Jimmie’s under the opinion of the 11th racing commandment, in his mind, being “Thou shalt not race aggressively with Jimmie Johnson.” News-flash to Jimmie: This is NASCAR. Aggressive driving has, and always will be, a part of the sport. Don’t like it? Find another sport.
Most Controversial Quote:
“I was in the outside lane and the outside lane just wasn’t the place to be tonight especially for us. It was a great effort. Really fortunate to have Chase Card Services to support Drive To End Hunger and AARP. We sure appreciate them. Hope a lot of fans text Hunger [to] 50555 tonight. What an incredible race car and race team right now. We really had a battle tonight to get up to the front like that. We took the lead and something happened that had the No. 27 (Paul Menard) spun all by himself and that definitely made the difference plus we didn’t get off pit road first. It was a great battle but I don’t know, our car just didn’t take off there at the end and we had to settle for, so it is still a great effort.” – _Jeff Gordon, third_
Also residing in the “sour grapes department” was Jeff Gordon in implying that Paul Menard spun out to give his teammate a better chance to win. While this is certainly not unheard of in motorsports (Marco Andretti’s first IndyCar win rumored to have been aided by a teammate who spun intentionally), on the surface it sounds so ludicrous that one has to wonder if Jeff Gordon thinks that we, as a nation, faked the moon landing as well?
Jeff Gordon’s implied conspiracy theory almost sounded like it was on the level of Dale Gribble’s conspiracy theories from “King Of The Hill.” Of course, Gordon has a track record of coming across as a bit of whiner at times, and this seems to be no exception. If Gordon could completely stop his incessant whining, perhaps he could become as beloved of a driver as the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. But until that day? The NASCAR faithful will never completely, 100% embrace him.
“Kevin wouldn’t give me enough room to run into him. He stayed on the bottom because he said I knew I was going to hit him. I wanted to get him for Trevor last night (laughs). He did a good job staying on the bottom and I couldn’t get a run to get up to him at all. That was a great race. As much as I am frustrated for not winning, tonight was about remembering our heroes and what America is about. I appreciate the fans coming out here. Hopefully, we bring all these troops home soon. It was a fun race and I am ready to go win this championship.” – _Carl Edwards, second_
While it’s unclear if Carl Edwards was joking or serious about retribution for Friday night’s race when Harvick tangled with Trevor Bayne, one thing is for sure: Edwards needed a strong run going into the Chase about as badly as a drowning man needs a lifeguard. This second place finish gives Edwards some much-needed momentum going into the last ten races, and things are looking better for the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team than they did a few weeks ago. It may be just one good finish, but it could not have come at a better time for a team that in the past several races, has been more up and down than a Cedar Point roller-coaster ride.
Best Of The Rest:
“That’s what its all about in these first 26. We learned that last year, we didn’t win enough races in the Chase and we didn’t think we did a very good job of that in the last ten. It’s all about the last ten races and we’ve got a little momentum now.” – _Kevin Harvick, winner, on being seeded 2nd in the reset Chase standings with his four wins_.
“Not unless you can’t build on a strong foundation here in the first three or four races. We proved failure in 2008, so we can’t have that again.” – _Kyle Busch, sixth, on whether being the points leader after the first 26 races means anything._
“I mean, there’s only one place to go from where we’re at right now, and that’s forward. We’re very fortunate to be here, obviously, with the tough season that we’ve had and the ups and downs and the DNFs and what not. It’s kind of a second lease on life for us and our season. Obviously, we’re coming into the Chase now with three consecutive top-10s, which I’m not sure we’ve done that all year long. We’ve got some momentum. Who knows what’s going to happen next week.” – _Denny Hamlin, ninth_
“I don’t know. I think we were racing for the Lucky Dog, and two or three times I got a run on him on the outside – obviously the hard way to pass – and he chopped me a couple times. So I gave him a tap at the start-finish line, and next time by he let me go and then he just wrecked me. It’s just frustrating. Obviously, neither one of us was having a very good night, so it just made both of our night’s worse. I feel like we had an OK car, we just caught up in that big wreck really early and it really messed our car up on both ends.” – _Travis Kvapil, 29th, on his incident with Dale Earnhardt, Jr._
“Well they wrecked in front of me and I was basically stopped. I don’t know what Scott Speed was doing but he just ran us over and killed our race car for no reason. That’s the way it goes. We’ll build another Dodge Charger.” – _Robby Gordon, 37th_
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