BROOKLYN, Mich – I wrote earlier in the week how Jimmie Johnson’s unusual tirade to Ryan Blaney was likely a byproduct of not just being mad at an end of race incident, but just how the last few seasons have gone in general.
That’s not who Johnson normally is. But, maybe that’s because all of the struggles of the last three seasons now aren’t normally who he is either. You combine all of that, the Blaney incident was just the fire on top of the gasoline moment. Johnson, had finally had enough. Blaney, was just the tip of the iceberg – but boy are his frustrations deeper than that.
On Friday at the Michigan International Speedway, Johnson spoke as to why he was so mad at Blaney last weekend and that he gave Blaney a four day grace period to get ahold of him so the two could discuss what happened. Here we are about to qualify for the next race of the schedule and Johnson still hasn’t heard from the Team Penske driver.
“If I were in his shoes and saw that, I would realize that I didn’t say enough and I respect that guy and need to follow up with him and reach out to him during the week,” Johnson said of Blaney. “That’s how I would have responded. I didn’t hear any form of sympathy after the race. That’s why I went there. What went on? That was my conversation and no remorse. I have no other way to think than that. I would have handled it different and that’s all I can go by.
“No form of apology. No follow up. Nothing after. It’s now pretty obvious, he meant to drive through me.”
Blaney, has a different take as he told NASCAR.com that he has nothing to apologize for. In fact, his side is he didn’t reach out because his respect level for the seven-time champion has faded.
“I have nothing to apologize about,” Blaney said Friday morning at Michigan. “He came down on me. I apologized to him right then and there, even though it was his fault. I have a lot of respect for Jimmie (Johnson) or had a lot of respect –that’s why I kind of let him chew my ass out for a minute, minute-and-a-half or whatever he did and I didn’t go back into him, especially when he put a finger in my face. Then his comments after we got done talking pretty much threw all that out the window. That respect is very little.”
Blaney also told NASCAR.com that he considered reaching out still but when he got to thinking about it, he doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong.
“I was there and he came down across me, then we talked about it after the race,” Blaney continued. “You do that to yourself and then expect me to apologize for that? It’s not like I flat ran him over. I told him that. It’s his doing, but he wants to be mad at me about it.”
Johnson, said that the only reason he confronted Blaney on pit road was out of respect. He didn’t want to tear up both race cars during the race because he wasn’t taught to do that. Plus, he didn’t go down looking for a fight either. He wanted to have a convo but feels like Blaney didn’t show any remorse for his actions when he did.
“I don’t care how it looks or how it’s perceived,” Johnson said on if he thought it was uncharacteristic of him to go have that convo the way that he did. “I don’t. I’m upset. The way I grew up and they way that I was raised is you go out and talk to the guy. I was taught not to use my car as a weapon. Fighting is really not my thing either unless I have to defend myself. I had hope to hear a different side of the story than what I thought took place.”
Johnson, said that he still thought Blaney would reach out despite that but the fact that the only thing he’s hearing from Blaney is through the media, not through his phone, is why this rivalry is really just that now – a rivalry.
“All I can speak to is the way that I know I would handle things,” Johnson continued on Friday. “Wrong, right or indifferent, I always make an effort to talk to the person. I have learned more of Ryan’s (Blaney) point of view through reading articles than I have out of his mouth. That part bothers me. It’s pretty sad.
“When I went to talk to him after the race, at some point he said he felt bad. But, I never heard an I’m sorry or nothing to make me think that he didn’t care if it happened. So, for that aspect it confirmed what I felt in the car. I thought I’d get a call from him during the week – just the friendship that we had, the amount of respect that I thought we had for one another and I didn’t.”
It appears while Johnson probably is upset that he’s on the brink of potentially not making the playoffs, he’s also riled up about Blaney too.