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Johnson, Busch hostilities flare at Richmond

Menzer had later been present at the subsequent formal post-midnight press conference when Busch arrived for that, and the driver approached the reporter again for a conversation that soon grew heated and loud once more. The situation almost again looked on the verge of getting physical before Busch was called to the front of the room to take part in the conference with Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart - and Jimmie Johnson, who deliberately took a seat as far down the other end of the table as possible.

"He can keep talking. He can keep running that mouth. He can't help but run his mouth," summarised Johnson. "Hell, he threatened to fight NASCAR.com's Joe. Interesting stuff." He may as well have added, who is in whose head now?

The two did at least have a few quiet words as the 12 Chase contenders were gathered for a photo-call before the end of the long night: "We spoke a few minutes up on the stage, and I certainly hope it's behind us," said Johnson. "I have no intentions to run people over."

Busch also insisted that he wanted this over and done with. "This is where we stand. Cars have been racing; cars have been wrecked. We have a Chase to start, so let's forgive."

Everyone agreed that this had been one of the most all-round tense press conferences they could remember, lightened only by flashes of comparative surrealism. Perhaps it was the late hour, or the strain of the exhausting 400 lap night race, or the euphoria and release of stress after the Chase positions were finally decided.

How else to explain Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski's weird sidebar discussion about crayons and little sharpeners, after Keselowski compared making the Chase to being "like a one-year-old that got his first box of crayons: happy and amazed to have them"?

Or how - when Edwards was asked a serious question about why he had stayed out and decided not to pit under one of the later cautions - Keselowski couldn't resist turning around and chipping in: "Yeah, Carl. Why didn't you?" which was greeted by a cheerful "Screw you, Brad!" by Edwards.

Or Matt Kenseth arriving to find no seats available at the drivers' table, only to briefly take up residence on Jimmie Johnson's knee?

By this point a high degree of black humour was settling in on the room. When Kenseth challenged another reporter's question about his not having had any top four finishes all season, the reporter held up his notebook and asked if Kenseth would like to rip it up instead, which got a smile from Kenseth and a strained laugh from the room.

"Thank you, guys," deadpanned Kenseth as the most bizarre NASCAR press conference in living memory finally broke up. "You're doing a fine job."




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]
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR)
Erik Jones in action in the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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