Published on August 19th, 2014 | by Michael J Smith0
Tempers Flare In Pure Michigan 400
In the closing laps of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson battled Ryan Newman hard for a position inside the top 10.
Johnson had struggled with a broken shifter since the halfway point in the race, and was surely fighting for all he could get, since he wrecked in four of the last five races.
Johnson and Newman made contact several times as they battled for position. Johnson eventually prevailed, finishing 9th while Newman faded to an 11th-place finish.
After the race, Newman confronted Johnson and the two exchanged heated words over what happened on the track.
Newman declined to comment, but Johnson didn’t. He said:
Everyone that’s ever been in a race car out there understands the frustration that comes along with racing Ryan. Just normal Ryan stuff. And I don’t want to take away anything from what this awesome race team did. Granted, we put ourselves in a bad position with the shift level breaking off and were able to rally back and get ourselves a good finish. Unfortunate we didn’t get any further up in the field, but still salvaged a lot today.
Newman and Johnson weren’t the only ones who were upset after the race.
Denny Hamlin confronted Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr to voice his displeasure with the way Earnhardt raced him earlier in the race.
Hamlin was upset that Earnhardt crowded Hamlin into the wall. Earnhardt admitted that he did crowd Hamlin into the wall, but he said he did so because he was tired of Hamlin side-drafting him.
Hamlin’s frustration seemed less about what Earnhardt did and more about the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas being down on power at the intermediate tracks this season. He said:
It’s just frustration from my part. I’m trying to do everything I can to keep up with the Hendrick engines. I’m side-drafting down the straightaway, trying to do everything I can. Not things I frown upon when I see other drivers do them. We’re trying to do everything we can to keep our track position.
Earnhardt told Motor Racing Network:
I ran him up the track a little bit. He didn’t like it too much. I’ve been run up the track, too. I don’t like it either, but I didn’t want him hanging on my quarter panel all the way down the front straightaway and end up three- or four-wide. I just wanted to get on by him because I was flying. We were hauling.