With just four races to go until the Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs, drivers are starting to feel the pressure. Some winless drivers, who are on the outside of the top 16 that make the postseason, were a little crabby at last week’s race at Watkins Glen.
The first incident was between Kyle Busch and Bubba Wallace. Busch sent Wallace a message by pushing him into the wall on Lap 39. On Lap 62, Wallace returned the favor, trading paint with Busch before finally sending him spinning after Turn 1.
“I’m going to get my respect on the track, and I don’t care who it is,” Wallace said. “That’s for when guys fail to think about the young guys, I guess, or with me. I won’t put up with no s***. So I flat out wrecked his ass back.”
Wallace is winless on the season, and in 27th place, so he pretty much has to win to get into the 16-man playoff. He has only one top 10 the entire year, a fifth-place finish at the NASCAR All-Star Race in May.
Still the Ford driver wasn’t about to back down. When he entered pit row after the race he was met with fist bumps by his crew.
“That’s what happens when you get run over,” Wallace said. “You just pay him back. So I won’t be like, ‘Oh, it’s Kyle Busch, he didn’t mean to.’ F*** him.”
Busch’s response wasn’t as verbose. He just said, “ You saw what happened.”
Johnson, Blaney Spat
The second altercation came after the conclusion of the Watkins Glen race. Ryan Blaney made contact with the rear of Jimmie Johnson with 29 laps remaining.
Johnson was livid, screaming over the radio to his crew that he was going to assault Blaney. After the race, in which Johnson finished 19th, while Blaney was fifth, Johnson sought out Blaney and began berating him.
Blaney said it was just racing, but Johnson didn’t accept the explanation. After the confrontation Johnson had calmed down, but was still annoyed.
“He just drove through me in the carousel over there,” Johnson said. “I was trying to hear what he had to say, but his lips were quivering so bad that he can’t even speak. I guess he was nervous or scared or both. I don’t know what the hell the problem is. He just drove through me, spun us out, and clearly, that has big implications on what we’re trying to do for the playoffs right now. So clearly not happy with his actions there. He claims it was racing. I can’t wait to go race him. Everybody, stay tuned.”
Both are winless on the year, but still in position to make the playoffs. Blaney is currently in 11th place, much better than Johnson, who is in the final spot. The 17th driver is Ryan Newman, who has just as many points as Johnson, but one spot below because of the tiebreaker.
No Punishment for Drivers
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” that no suspensions or fines will be handed out because of the two incidents.
“We’ll certainly talk to the drivers who want to have a conversation with us. That’s fair,” O’Donnell said. “We always kind of get through the weekend, emotions run high and then check in with folks before they head to the next race, but from our perspective nothing to come of what took place on the race track.”
Another Track Getting Compound
First it was Pocono, now Michigan International Speedway will be getting PJ1 traction compound to all four corners.
In addition to Pocono, the compound has been used New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. It was not used last weekend at Watkins Glen International.
This Week’s Odds, Pick
NASCAR returns to Michigan International Speedway for the Consumers Energy 400. Kyle Busch is the favorite at 5/2, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick at 5/1.
We like Erik Jones at 16/1. He has had four consecutive top 5s and could easily find the winner’s circle here.