Jimmie Rips Into Kurt Busch
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Time is apparently not healing the wounds of Jimmie Johnson in relation to his recent run-ins with Kurt Busch.
Johnson, in the middle of a quest to win his sixth straight Sprint Cup championship, made that very clear during a press conference Friday at Watkins Glen International.
About two questions into the presser, Johnson was asked about the post-Pocono Raceway Busch vs. Johnson.
It then went like this:
“I guess I will kind of go into kinda what I had thought about for…since I hadn’t seen anyone since what took place at Pocono. There are two parts to this thing. First part is on the track; second part is pit road. The on-the-track part, we all know we come off of turn one and Kurt (Busch) gets to me to side-draft me. I try to break the side-draft and then from there he felt it was necessary to run into the side of my car and tear my car up. So, yes, I was mad at that point.
“And then it brings me to the other part which was on pit road. When we got to pit road, I’m not sure if anyone has had words with someone before. When you are in that moment and you’re having words with someone and as the crowd starts to build around, that guy all of a sudden gets brave and when you think it’s over and you walk away and that guy gets real tough, I don’t know about you, but that really makes me mad. Bottom line, he just started running his mouth. If you look at over the years and what his mouth has done for him, it got my biggest fan Jimmie Spencer to punch him in the face. It’s led to issues with NASCAR officials on pit road. I think we all tune in weekly and wonder what’s he going to say to his crew guys. You look at what he said to Roger Penske, his car owner. So, that aspect is the part that really got me mad. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let him run his mouth at me. That is just kind of how it is.”
Question: HOW DO YOU KEEP THE EMOTIONS FROM INTERFERING WITH YOUR FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE?
Johnson: “There is no secret about it that there is no love lost between the two of us. We can do it. We have done it. We didn’t have wrecked race cars at the end of Pocono. I could have easily gone down on the tunnel turn and done something stupid, but I didn’t. So, there’s lines there that you cross. The stuff on track, yes, it made me mad, but to have somebody run their mouth like he does and did to me, that’s the part…if you look back at the timeline and where I was the maddest, that is when I was mad. So, that’s where we are.”
Question: WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID KURT SAY TO GET YOUR FEATHERS RUFFLED TO THE POINT YOU WERE SO MAD?
“My first option is to not tear up race cars. I have too much respect for the guys working on my race car and too much respect for Roger Penske and his organization to take it out out there. So that’s not my goal or my objective. I made zero contact with Kurt at Pocono until once he hit me, then I leaned on him back. I went to break the draft, I never touched him. He instigated the contact. So that’s not my goal.
“What he said, you were standing there, you heard it. He said plenty.”
Question: IS THIS THE NEW JIMMIE JOHNSON?
“No, that is not the case. We know there has been plenty of history over the years. And there are just things that just kind of boil to a head and when I hopped out of the car and started talking to him, you know, he had one level of interaction with me while he was sitting in his race car. And when he got out of the car, neither one of us where happy, but we were talking. And the crowd started to build and his bravery started to build. I walk away……………and he got awfully tough. That part frustrates me and that is where you saw me engage like you did. I mean, if you are going to say something, say it to the man’s face and eye-to-eye when he is there. Don’t wait until he walks away.”No Comment