Jimmie Johnson issued a post-race retort to Brad Keselowski’s late-stage tactics after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Kentucky Speedway, hinting at restart retribution in a social-media salvo after the checkered flag.
Johnson was making his return to Cup Series competition after his self-reported positive test for COVID-19 forced him out of last weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson contended by running at high as third place in the late going, but contact with Keselowski on a restart sent his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet spinning to the infield grass, forcing the next-to-last caution period on the 250th of 267 laps in the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart.
Johnson returned to the race without substantial damage but had just an 18th-place to show for his first race back. That teed up a teed-off Johnson for a post-race Twitter barb.
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) July 12, 2020
Keselowski, the Stage 2 winner, trudged on to a ninth-place result in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford. Over his team radio communications, Keselowski took exception to Johnson’s blocking maneuver in his attempt to hold third place on the inside groove.
“Ridiculous,” Keselowski said after the yellow flag flew. “He run me off the race track. I don‘t run people off the race track.”
Keselowski expanded on his move to the inside of Johnson post-race, saying he had a head of steam when the lane — led by teammate Ryan Blaney with Johnson behind him — bogged down.
“I was turning down toward the grass,” Keselowski said. “I might have had a foot or two, but I couldn‘t go much lower, and I don‘t know if he was trying to turn down to block me or if he was trying to turn down to get underneath Blaney, but he turned down and I was too far forward. There was kind of unavoidable contact at that time. I don‘t know. I hate that it ruined his day. I don‘t really necessarily know what to do different. If I stayed in line and just pushed him, I was gonna get gobbled like I did on the last restart, so just part of the mayhem with these restarts.
“I hate that we had control of the race and just didn‘t have enough speed to keep it because I feel like we could have brought this race home. We had a really good car on restarts, but we just didn‘t have the speed to keep the lead and fell back to third there and got ate up on the restart. That part is kind of a bummer, but it was just restart mayhem.”