Ryan Blaney finished fifth in both NASCAR races at Watkins Glen this weekend. He’d come home fifth in Saturday’s Zippo 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race and fifth again in Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event. But, Sunday’s finish was a whole lot more eventful than Saturday’s.
See, Blaney’s No. 12 Ford had to have adjustments made despite passing tech on Sunday morning. They’d have to go to the back of the field at the start as a result. Despite starting 37th, he drove up to a fifth place run. That’s the good.
“Yeah, our car was fast,” Blaney said after scoring his third straight top 10 finish and sixth in his last eight starts overall on the year. “We started dead last and took a lot of time to get up through there. We did some pit strategy stuff and got a little bit better throughout the day and got to fifth there. I might have been able to get to fourth, but it would have been tough. It was a good job by everybody for having a fast car and ended up pretty decent.”
But, he made Jimmie Johnson mad in the process.Johnson, was running solidly in the top 10 in the closing laps and was going to capitalize on a big points day in the playoff standings. Instead, contact with Blaney with 29 laps-to-go has the seven-time series champion fuming.
“He just drove through me in the carousel,” Johnson said of the run-in with Blaney. “I tried to hear what he was trying to say…but his lips were quivering so bad when he came to speak. I don’t know if he was nervous or scared or both…I don’t know what the problem is. 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. … We scored points in both stages which was nice. We were setting up for top-eight to top-10 and got drove through. He claims it was just racing. So I can hardly wait to go racing. Everybody stay tuned.”
Blaney’s side was that he didn’t purposely try to get into Johnson and that Johnson left a lane open and he tried to take it.
“It was just racing,” Blaney said on his take of the contact between the two. “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. It’s obviously an accident, but he was upset and I can’t blame him for being upset about it. We’re just racing hard and I thought there was a lane there and it just closed.”
Blaney said that despite the two speaking on pit road that Johnson is still mad.
“He’s angry. 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.”