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Johnson, Busch hostilities flare at Richmond

Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are both in the Chase, but after their on- and off-track clashes at Richmond it's starting to look as if it may not be big enough for the both of them.
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch had another ill-tempered confrontation on the track at Richmond, although it was afterwards that the fireworks really started, especially for Busch.

The on-track conflict started on lap 186 of 400, when Busch locked up and slid into Johnson into turn 1, sending the #48 into the outside wall giving him heavy damage to the rear of the car.

Johnson's race was already compromised and so he targeted the next best thing - wrecking Busch's night as well. He dove down into the corner underneath the #22 and spun Busch on lap 247. Busch got off lightly and was able to resume - he finished in fifth place at the end of the night - while Johnson also spun as a result of the contact and ended up in the garage for the next 34 laps for repairs.

"He has no one to be upset with except himself. If he didn't run me over going into turn one, nothing would have happened," said an unrepentant Johnson. "It's simple stuff, you wreck me and I'm going to wreck you."

“When he came back to us, you could see it coming,” Busch said, who also called Johnson a "five-time chump" as he fumed after the race. "He's been able to beat guys the last five years just by outdriving them with what he has for equipment. If he wants to switch equipment, lets see what we can do but I'm going to beat him fair and square with my Penske Dodge."

And it was at this point that things got really strange.

In a live televised pit road interview, Busch maintained his earlier line from their clash at Pocono that Johnson's hostile reactions showed that Busch was rattling the champion: "That's not something you see from Jimmie Johnson every day so I know we're in his head. If we're going to race this way, he's got to worry that there's ten other guys in this Chase, not just the #22."

In the formal press conference after the race, when Johnson was asked about Busch's "in his head" comment, Busch interrupted to flatly denied he'd said it: "I didn't say that tonight. Did not." One Associated Press reporter then showed him the transcript of the earlier TV interview, which Busch snatched out of her hands, ripped in half and threw both pieces back on the reporter's desk before storming out.

Earlier, Busch had been approached in the pit lane by NASCAR.com reporter Joe Menzer, who had started to ask, "Kurt, can either you or Jimmie win the Chase ..." before Busch had suddenly cut him off.

"How did I see you were going to come with that? We're good," Busch had snapped before turning away and walking off. Menzer called after him that it was a valid question given the on-track incidents, at which point Busch reportedly rounded on him, started swearing at Menzer and was apparently only prevented from getting physical with the reporter by the intervention of Penske Racing team members.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson spins out after being tapped by Kurt Busch before the midpoint of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway. [Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with champagne and crew chief Tony Gibson in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, wins, causing his crew to celebrate Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burn-out Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Energizer Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A detail view of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series logo as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
People walk on pit road as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, lead the field to start during the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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