Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson both had the solid days they needed at Watkins Glen International on Sunday afternoon (August 4). But neither left the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in a happy mood.
Blaney finished the race fifth and scored two points in stage two, further securing his points lead over the playoff bubble. Johnson entered the race on the outside looking in, but scored six stage points and finished 19th. The result put Johnson on the right side of the playoff bubble, as Ryan Newman finished 25th with no stage points.
However, the big highlight of both their days occurred on lap 63. That’s when Blaney got into the back of Johnson and sent the No. 48 sailing into the wall of the inner loop. Johnson was able to continue, but his Ally Chevrolet was never the same. He was likely a top-10 car on speed prior to the incident.
By the way … @JimmieJohnson was NOT happy after the last caution …
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 4, 2019
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 4, 2019
Blaney claimed any contact was unintentional.
“It’s just racing,” Blaney said. “I mean, 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, and he hit the third curb pretty bad and got him out of position. And I was there, and he left a lane and a quarter or so. 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. Obviously, I didn’t mean to spin him out. I don’t want to do that. It’s obviously an accident.”
Johnson, however, saw the wreck differently. He was not happy with Blaney and confronted him after the race.
“I was trying to hear what he had to say, but his lips were quivering so bad he can’t even speak,” Johnson said to NBCSN. “I guess he’s nervous or scared, maybe both. I don’t know what the hell the problem is. … He claims it was racing, I can’t wait to go racing. Everybody stay tuned.”
Blaney was understanding of Johnson’s anger.
“He was upset, and I can’t blame him for being upset about it. We were just racing hard, and I thought there was a lane there that just closed,” Blaney added. “I can’t blame him for being angry. He’s just trying to get into the playoffs right now and have good runs.”
Blaney, who grew up watching Johnson race, regrets that the contact happened.
“The last guy I want to spin out is Jimmie,” he said. “We always race great together. I’ve always looked up to him for a long time. I still do.”
With four races left before the playoffs, Blaney has an 89-point lead over the cutline. However, any type of retaliation could hurt that buffer in what’s been a winless year.
Johnson leaves the Glen tied for that 16th and final playoff spot.