After failing to catch up with Johnson, Harvick sought him out in the infield
As shown on NBCSN, Harvick confronted Johnson in the motor coach lot following Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 20, 2015
Harvick, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, was running second on a mid-race restart when Johnson dove onto the 1.5-mile oval’s apron to attempt to pass him. The two fought for space for a few moments before making contact, resulting in a tire rub and eventual cut tire for Harvick.
Johnson would hold on to finish 11th, while Harvick would end the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 42nd, 58 laps down.
Johnson blamed the daring move and eventual contact on a push from fifth-place Joey Logano and lack of space from Harvick following the incident.
“I got a push from behind and went down on the apron,” said Johnson. “I’ve got to get back on the track, so I just tried to inch my way back up on the track, and we had a little contact there. It happens, and unfortunately Kevin got a tire rub out of that.
“He didn’t give me any space. He was pinning me down, and I’ve gotta get back up on the track.”
Johnson described the race’s restarts as “crazy.” With passing difficult as drivers struggled to overcome aero issues, restarts proved the best time to make up ground.
“Whenever you have this big, flat apron like that on the bottom it really creates a lot of craziness,” said Johnson.
Harvick is no stranger to anger issues. Nicknamed “Happy” in his younger years, the California native has been involved in multiple altercations throughout his careers, feuding with drivers including Ricky Rudd, Jeff Gordon and Ty Dillon.
Johnson wasn’t surprised to hear of Harvick’s anger following the race.
““I assumed he would try to find it as my fault,” said Johnson. “I just simply needed a lane to get back onto the racetrack. I by no means was trying to do anything different.
“I’ve seen him on the flat working his way up and looking for a racing lane. That’s all I was doing. I was on the bottom trying to get back up onto the racing surface and he was trying to pin me down. I’ve gotta get back up there, or else there would’ve been a hell of a mess in turn 1.”
About the author
A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.
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