Jimmie Johnson: “I don’t crash people to win races.”
Jimmie Johnson went winless in 2018. That was the first time that happened since his NASCAR rookie year in 2001.
Now, in the very first race of 2019, Johnson put his Chevy Camaro in victory lane. It was an exhibition race, the Clash at Daytona. But, nonetheless it’s a NASCAR win.
“I’ve mentioned it many times, I’m far from done,” Jimmie Johnson stated in the Daytona International Speedway media center after the win in The Clash.
“For us, there was no other thought process. Other than to go out and try to win the pole and win the race. We came close to doing both.”
However, the win didn’t come without a little controversy. The rain was on the way. Right before it hit, Johnson and Menard tangled at the front of the field. All but four cars made it through. Only 3 of them avoided the accident completely.
Johnson worked to the inside of Paul Menard. Johnson came up two inches and Menard came down two inches. There wasn’t four inches of wiggle room.
Jimmie Johnson talks the crash with Paul Menard
Matt Weaver: Can you walk us through the incident?
“I was inside of him for a little while before things went haywire. So, I don’t know what caused his car to get out of control,” Johnson stated.
“I didn’t hit his rear bumper cover. I made a move and got to his inside. I was side drafting him and his car started wobbling.”
“I don’t know what caused it. It’s the last way I want to win a race. I’ve lost plenty this way. Restrictor plates usually do end this way.”
“I mean, it’s plate racing. And I’m here to win races. I hate there were a bunch of tore up cars. But, I didn’t drive through a car and create a wreck.”
“So, I’ll take a look at it some more on tape. But, from where I was sitting, it was just a racing incident.”
Dustin Long: Is there remorse or what’s the mindset?
“When you drive into somebody and spin them out then you know what you did. I pulled up alongside of another car and a wreck started,” Johnson continued.
“I’ll take whatever blame is fairly suppose to be put on me. But, let’s remember that rain’s coming, it’s literally the white flag and how many plate races have we seen where there’s aggressive driving to try and win the race?”
It was not the white flag lap. However, after this crash, the race was called due to rain. So, it did become the white flag lap. Jimmie is saying that he knew the race was soon to end due to rain.
“I didn’t try to crash Paul. I didn’t drive through Paul. It was a racing incident. I’m very remorseful. I’m more remorseful than any driver in the field when stuff like this happens.”
“I don’t crash people to win races. I looked in the mirror and there were a lot of cars caught up in it. I hate that aspect.”
“But, at the same time, I made a split second decision to try to win a race. I set up the pass and got position on him clean.”
Jimmie Johnson discusses the conversation after a crash
Communication is a big part of weekly NASCAR racing. When you see the same people on track from week to week, it becomes important to repair relationships. \
The alternative is to let it go and let it built. Then, watch it build to the point of crashing each other out, every week. Which isn’t good for either driver.
Joey Logano found that out the hard way when he didn’t reach out to Matt Kenseth following a crash at Kansas Speedway. Weeks later, Logano went from leading the race at Martinsville to climbing out of a torn race car.
Jeff Gluck: Do you have to send a group text? What happens now?
“I’ll definitely reach out to Paul. I think a phone call goes much further than a text. It would be even better, face to face, but I’m assuming he’s gone,” Johnson stated.
“I don’t know if he or anybody else will care what I have to say. I’ve been in that position, where I just didn’t care. But, i will do my best to explain what I was thinking and what was going on.”
“I expect to hear his point of view as well.”