Kevin Harvick finished 42nd at Chicagoland, crashing after contact with Jimmie Johnson cut down his left rear tire.
An on-track incident turned into a post-race confrontation between drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick in the drivers’ motorhome lot following Sunday’s Chase for the Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
Johnson made contact with Harvick on a restart on Lap 135 of 267 which left Harvick’s No. 4 tire rub that contributed Harvick slamming into the wall and doing serious damage to his chances to repeat as series champion.
In NBC Sports Network video of the incident, Harvick is seen exiting his motorhome with Johnson waiting to speak with him. Harvick immediately punches Johnson in the chest.
Harvick and Johnson then began a heated verbal exchange with Harvick’s business manager, Josh Jones, physically holding Harvick back as Johnson appeared to walk away. Harvick’s wife, DeLana, arrived on the scene as Johnson walked off.
“I got a pretty good restart and obviously (Joey Logano) and (Johnson) got a run. I just held my line and (Johnson) just slammed into the side of my door,” Harvick said after exiting his car on pit road.
“That was pretty much it.”
Harvick isn't concerned about elimination
As where he and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team go from here after beginning the Chase with a 42ndplace finish, Harvick said he wasn’t concerned.
“We can win anywhere – we could have won today,” he said. “It’s just a matter of putting a couple days together and come back to Victory Lane. Same thing as last year.”
The four Chase drivers lowest in points and without a win after the third race of the Chase are eliminated from the championship. A win either next weekend at New Hampshire or the week after at Dover, Del., however, would automatically advance Harvick to the next round.
After extensive repairs to his car, Harvick returned to the track to finish the race and asked his team over the radio to let him know where Johnson was on the track.
Harvick, however, never took any action on the track or after the race against Johnson. Johnson, apparently, sought Harvick out at his motorhome.
“I got a push from behind and went down on the apron. I got to get back on the track so I just tried to inch my way back up on the track,” Johnson said of the incident. “We had a little bit of contact there, which usually happens, and unfortunately Kevin got a tire rub from that.
“He didn’t leave me any space. He was pinning me down and I’ve got to get back on the track. When you’re in Kevin’s situation you want to give that car a bad angle so they have to lift (off the accelerator).
“I was fine with lifting but I had to get back on the race track."