Renewed rivalry shouldn’t affect Chase

One of Sprint Cup’s most notable rivalries caught fire again at Richmond International Raceway.  Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch tangled twice during the final race before the Chase.

The five-time champ found the wall on lap 186 after Busch locked up his brakes and slid up into Johnson going into turn one.  Later on lap 246, Johnson retaliated by sending his damaged Lowe’s Chevy careening into Busch, spinning both cars.

After the race, Johnson and Busch continued a rekindled feud by taking verbal shots at one another during post-race interviews and the press conference.

While Busch claims to have gotten into Johnson’s head following their on track mishaps, he also remains optimistic heading into the championship stretch.

“[Jimmie Johnson] has got to learn to race,” said Busch. “I’m going to beat him fair and square with my Penske Dodge.”

Johnson realizes that on-track issues must remain in the rearview mirror entering the Chase in order to accomplish his goal of an unprecedented sixth consecutive Sprint Cup title.

“We can do it.  It can be done.  We had eight, nine years before that where everything was fine.  It’s possible, and I think it’s in both of our best interests to get it behind us and go forward,” said Johnson while discussing his past history with Busch.

It seems that Busch might also be ready to move on.  According to ESPN’s David Newton, the Pennzoil Charger driver has apologized to two reporters that he aggressively confronted after the race when they asked him questions about the rivalry.

By continuing their race day antics, Johnson and Busch would endanger their own championship hopes, not to mention those of the other title contenders.  Considering Johnson’s prior success and average finish of 8th in all Chase events, every race is now important.  One mix-up could be the difference between a top 10 finish and the end of a driver’s championship dreams.

Both drivers have experience in the Chase and know what it takes to win a championship.  While there is no doubt the racers will keep eyes on one another over the last 10 races, it would be foolish to seek revenge during such a crucial stretch because of the risk involved.


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