BROOKLYN, Mich. — If you’re wondering if the dust has settled between Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson since their incident at Watkins Glen International five days ago, here’s the short answer: It hasn’t.
Johnson started his Friday morning visiting the Boys and Girls Club of Lenawee in Adrian, Michigan, where he received a tour of the facility by a handful of the children in the program, participated in a question-and-answer session and signed autographs before the race weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
But in his first media availability since the heated post-race discussion with Blaney at “The Glen,” the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion noted Blaney failed to reach out this week.
“We know what happened on the track … the drivers do,” Johnson told NASCAR.com. “There was a window of opportunity there from my standpoint for Ryan to handle it a certain way, to engage in at least the way that I know I have when it wasn’t on purpose and I have yet to see or hear from him. So, that only validates my line of thought and how angry I was in the car.”
While Johnson indicated he was waiting for some form of communication, Blaney told NASCAR.com he had already had that conversation after the race.
“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 — 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 said he briefly considered reaching out this week but reiterated he didn’t do anything wrong.
“I was there and he came down across me, then we talked about it after the race,” Blaney said. “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 was asked about Blaney’s comments to NASCAR.com later Friday following practice at Michigan.
“I have learned more about Ryan’s point of view through reading articles than I have from out of his mouth, and that part bothers me,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty sad. When I went to go talk to him after the race, at some point he said he felt bad but I never heard ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,’ nothing that would make me think that he didn’t care if it happened.
“That aspect only confirmed the way I felt in my car. So I thought I would get a call from him during the week, just the friendship that we’ve had, the amount of respect that I thought we had for one another, and I didn’t.”
With four races remaining in the Monster Energy Series regular season, Johnson is currently tied with Ryan Newman on the playoff cutline but would win the tiebreaker to be in the 16-driver field. Blaney currently sits 10th in the standings.
Given Johnson’s comments at “The Glen” warning everyone to “stay tuned,” the possibility of retaliation lingers for Blaney. But it’s not something Blaney is necessarily worried about, he said.
“He wants to do what he wants to do,” Blaney said. “That’s a separate deal. I’m over it. I’m sure he’s still mad.”
Blaney admitted he has given other drivers chances in the past and it hasn’t worked to his favor. That attitude might be changing this year as he enters the NASCAR Playoffs.
“I’ve checked up for a lot of people and they chopped my nose off like that over the years,” Blaney said. “That’s just not happening anymore. If he wants to be pissed off and try to wreck us and take us out, it’s going to be a whole other problem.”