Jimmie Johnson did everything he needed to do to get his No. 48 Chevrolet back on the good side of the playoff picture. He entered Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen 12 points behind the cutoff position. Johnson, had a great strategy plan by his new crew chief Cliff Daniels as he scored six stage points in Sunday’s race.
Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored zero. Newman, had a tire go down in the final stage and then was penalized for going through too many pit boxes. He’d finish 25th as a result.
Johnson, was running solidly in the top 10 in the closing laps and was going to capitalized on a big points day. Instead, contact with Ryan 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.”
Nevertheless, Johnson spun and got into the tire barriers exiting the inner loop. He’d continue on but only finish 19th. He’s now tied with Newman for the final playoff spot heading to Michigan.