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Johnson: Who Knows What Harvick Will Do

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2015
Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson this weekend talked about last weekend and his altercation with Kevin Harvick. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson this weekend talked about last weekend and his altercation with Kevin Harvick. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kevin Harvick’s qualifying run at New Hamphire Motor Speedway put him where he wanted to be – on the front row for Sunday’s race. Then it put him where he didn’t want to be – having to face the media.

chase 15 logoBy qualifying second fastest on Friday, Harvick was required by NASCAR policy to report to the media center in the track’s infield. There, he knew, he would have to do what he had reportedly spent much of the earlier portion of the day avoiding – talking about his post-race altercation with fellow driver Jimmie Johnson.

Asked where he was with Johnson, whom he attacked outside his motorcoach following last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway, Harvick said, “I’m just here (in the media center) so I don’t get fined.”

The altercation was the result of a crash that occurred during the Chicagoland race. The cars of Johnson and Harvick bumped door panels as their drivers fought for the same piece of track and as a result, Harvick spun and wrecked.

The damage to the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet sent it to the garages and Harvick wound up finishing 42nd. Also suffering damage was Harvick’s bid to win a second Cup championship because of the elimination format of this year’s playoffs.

After the race, Johnson headed over to Harvick’s motorhome.

“Obviously,” Johnson said Friday, “I wanted to go to his Motorhome and try to talk to him

Kevin Harvick did not sound as though he was in a forgiving mood on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Kevin Harvick did not sound as though he was in a forgiving mood on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

about the situation at that point in time.  I’ve been on the flip side of that before and although I wasn’t happy to see whoever it was.  It meant something to me and I appreciated the fact that they came to my bus to see me.  That is all I was trying to do there.”

When Johnson got there, Harvick rushed out and gave Johnson a stiff shove to the chest. Harvick continued to advance on Johnson and had to be separated by a Stewart-Haas employee, Harvick’s wife and finally, a security guard.

Johnson was asked if he was surprised by being attacked by Harvick, the defending series champion.

“No I wasn’t surprised that he was that upset,” Johnson, who like Harvick, is a Chase driver, said. “Believe me I knew good and well going over there that he wasn’t going to be in the best mood.  It was just important to me to try and make contact with him and try to talk to him.  Based on experiences that I’ve had in the position that it has put me in.  That is what led me to going over there.”

When questions turn to the incident during the mandatory media session, Harvick chose fewer words than Johnson.

“I don’t have a lot to say about any of it,” Harvick said. “I’m here to race and do what I have to do to do what I need to do in the next two weeks.”

Pressed to give his side of the story, Harvick said, “I don’t look back.  I just do what we have to do to focus on what we need to do looking forward. We are not going to use you guys to make threats. I can do that myself.”

Johnson, who is going for a record-tying seventh Cup championship this fall, did have more to day when he was asked about the shunt that led to the attack.

“It really was a racing incident,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “I was just trying to get back on the racetrack.  Unfortunately, that contact took place.  It just sucks for those guys.  I mean I feel for Kevin.  I feel for Rodney (Childers, crew chief).  I feel for the Stewart-Haas folks, for Tony (Stewart), Gene (Haas) that is not the situation that any of us wanted to have happen. Unfortunately, it’s racing there was a lot going on on that restart and we had the contact.”

Johnson, who qualified fifth on Friday, will spend Sunday afternoon driving on the same mile of pavement as a colleague who appears to still be in possession of a hot head.

“I truthfully don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I certainly know what I hope for, but there is no telling what will end up taking place.  I think that is the exciting part about this Chase and the way you can advance, the way you can win to carry on and the intensity that it brings.  So, it’s definitely going to be an exciting Chase for everyone and right now everybody is focused on us, but who is to know after this weekend what conflict on track is going to be the next story.”

The Chase field will be cut down from 16 to 12 following next weekend’s race. Harvick will now likely need to win this week or next to advance.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2015
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