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Johnson-Busch Feud Fizzles At Indy

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, July 24 2009

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR File Photo)

Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR File Photo)

Those hoping that the Kurt Busch-Jimmie Johnson flare-up at Chicagoland Speedway would turn into the big feud which some feel the sport needs to climb back onto the front pages will be disappointed today.

Jimmie loves Kurt and Kurt loves Jimmie.

And not even a breach of text-messaging etiquette could change that.

That was the word which came out of the garages at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

The two drivers have had several dust-ups in the past and a pretty big one the last time they were on the same track together.

That one took place at Chicagoland two weeks ago. With about 15 laps to go, Johnson’s car got loose, made contact with Busch’s and Busch hit the wall.

Busch retaliated – a couple times – and then made some disparaging post-race comments about Johnson, the three-time champion.

Busch said he would have to re-evaluate his respect for Johnson.

The first questions asked of the two drives at Indy, site of this weekend’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, concerned the possible feud.

Johnson was first up. He was asked if he and Busch had talked since Chicago.

“No, I sent him a text and tried to reach out to him after the race and haven’t heard back,” Johnson said.

Johnson was asked if that is bad form in this age of the BlackBerry.

“It’s not uncommon to not hear back,” Johnson said. “I don’t think a lot of people like talking about it. They would rather bury it and save it for another moment where they can settle the score.”

Johnson was asked specifically his reaction to Busch’s critical remarks from Chicago.

His answer could not have made feud boosters very happy.

“I think if you asked him again today with the emotions gone I think he would change his mind,” Johnson said. “I’ve worked really hard to have the respect from all the guys on the race track. I’ll take full and total blame for Sears Point (where he and Busch tangled earlier in the season). At Sears Point I walked up to him to apologize and take the blame and he sees me mid-interview and kind of backs off his tone and how mad he is at me.

“Then as I start talking to him he’s really chilled about it and is like, ‘No, I should have let you go it’s my fault.’ I was like don’t give me that. I take responsibility and I put us in that position and it’s my fault.

“So going into Chicago I know he was frustrated the fact that we got together again. I got loose and it was a racing thing. There was nothing intentional about it. From the videos that I’ve seen there may have been enough room for him to not hit the wall but I think he was anticipating me slamming him and him hitting the wall. If he just stopped short of the wall and we made contact, but it was a racing thing. It was nothing intentional.”

Next it was Busch who was given the chance to throw some Sunoco race fuel onto the fire.

He refused to bite.

Of the olive branch 2.0, he said, “I did get a text message and that was the night of the race.”

Then he got busy with testing and attending a baseball game and then went to a place that had no cell service.

Bottom line; the cyber snub was unintentional.

“I’ll find him in the garage today,” Busch said. “I feel like Chicago was definitely in the heat of the moment type situation where it wasn’t that big of a deal. We’ll work on it, shake hands and laugh about it. I don’t think that it’s that big of a deal to where we don’t even need to worry about it.”

Sorry feud fans.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, July 24 2009
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