News & Media


Dispute between Busch, Johnson carries on

September 12, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Jimmie Johnson had a good view of the rest of the field passing him, courtesy of Kurt Busch. (Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two on-track collisions continue long-running feud between two title contenders

On a wild night in which the record for cautions in a race at Richmond International Raceway was tied during the Wonderful Pistachios 400, no feud produced more sparks or had more possible long-range implications than the one between drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.

"You could just see the payback coming from the five-time chump. ... Cars have been racing; cars have been wrecked. We have a Chase to start, so let's forgive. "

--KURT BUSCH

"Unfortunately, we have had a history over the years. We spoke a few minutes up on the stage, and I certainly hope it's behind us. "

--JIMMIE JOHNSON

The problems between Busch and Johnson erupted on Lap 185 when Busch admittedly got into Johnson and spun him in Turn 2 of the 0.75-mile track.

"We had 398 other laps with the way we raced each other [clean]," Busch said. "I got into [Turn 1] hot, locked up my brakes and slid into him. And then you could just see the payback coming from the five-time chump.

"So this is where we stand. Cars have been racing; cars have been wrecked. We have a Chase to start, so let's forgive."

Johnson was not ready to forgive right away. On Lap 246, he hit Busch from behind and spun both cars out. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet hit the wall and headed to the garage, and he later candidly admitted he deliberately spun Busch's No. 22 Dodge in retaliation.

"Going into Turn 1 [earlier], he spun me out. I just repaid the favor," Johnson said.

This wasn't the first time the two have feuded. They exchanged heated words after banging into each other during the final lap of a race at Pocono on Aug. 7, and have tangled with each other at other tracks in the past.

"I worked very hard not to have contact with him. And I didn't have any contact with him at Pocono," Johnson contended. "I passed him twice before [the first incident Saturday], and then he got into me in [Turn] 1 and spun me around. So it is what it is."

Told that Busch referred to him as a "five-time chump," Johnson shook his head and replied: "He can keep talking. He can keep running that mouth. He can't help but run his mouth."

Johnson was asked if either he or Busch could win the upcoming Chase if they continue to have issues on the track.

"It's not a concern," Johnson said. "If he would stop running into my race car, it would be really easy. I mean, very easy.

"I didn't hit him at Pocono. I didn't hit him [first on Saturday] night. We raced last week in and around each other at Atlanta and we drove right on by one another. He passed me and I passed him, and everything was cool. So if he can stay away from my race car, we won't have a problem."

Asked the same question moments earlier, Busch declined comment.

"How did I see you were going to come with that? We're done," Busch said.

Later, in a group interview, Busch was asked again by another reporter if he and Johnson "can leave it alone for the next 10 weeks."

"For 398 laps we had a solid car, and on one of those [other] laps I got into Turn 1 too hot and got into the 48," he said. "The other lap was when the 48 retaliated and spun us around. If you guys can really figure it out, you can figure out what to write.

"But to me, when guys are out there racing, we're racing. That's what we're supposed to be writing about."

Johnson was asked if fans could expect to see a raised level of payback during the upcoming Chase, based on the incidents that took place at RIR and in other races in recent weeks involving a number of drivers.

"I think that we've seen it from the start of the season, and even last year and in other times," Johnson said. "When someone feels wronged, a lot of times people are going to take that opportunity to get even and settle it, then go on with it.

"So it seems to be turning out that way, absolutely. I can remember an instance at Homestead last year. I can remember stuff at a lot of different places, a lot of things going on. The boys have at it; certain things are in effect."

Johnson added that he and Busch spoke briefly on the stage where all 12 participants in the 2011 Chase gathered for photographs after Saturday's race, during which Busch rallied to finish fifth.

"The bottom line is we can race out there without running into each other," said Johnson, who finished 38 laps down in 31st. "Unfortunately, we have had a history over the years. We spoke a few minutes up on the stage, and I certainly hope it's behind us. I have no intentions to run people over."