Biffle sorry for not talking to Johnson in private
Jimmie Johnson talks with his crew during qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In a photo made with a wide angle lens Denny Hamlin (11) and Jimmie Johnson (48) lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27, 2013 in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo/Chris Trotman, pool)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – If Greg Biffle could go back to Sunday, when he grabbed Jimmie Johnson by the collar and spun him around to confront him, he’d probably reach for the five-time champion’s arm.
And he would maybe ask for a private conversation rather than interrupting Johnson during post-race interviews.
For the way it actually transpired, Biffle said, he plans to apologize to Johnson.
But that’s where it ends. Biffle remained adamant that Johnson rammed into the back of his car at Martinsville Speedway, causing heavy damage to Biffle’s rear bumper cover and preventing him from his first career top-three finish at the track.
“Maybe I overreacted a small amount, but I wanted him to know I was not happy with what took place,” Biffle said yesterday during an appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Biffle said he was the fastest car on the track for 65 laps at Martinsville when Johnson rear-ended him and knocked off the bumper cover. Biffle had to pit to repair the damage, he restarted at the back of the field and finished ninth. With a better finish, Biffle believed he would have moved up at least two positions from eighth in the Sprint Cup standings.
So he was admittedly “furious” when he approached Johnson, who argued he did not run into Biffle and had been racing “inside” of Biffle.
“His claim that he was inside me is not true,” Biffle said. “The TV part of it has done a horrible job. They show me and him side-by-side and the bumper is flying off. Well, that was a lap and a half after he hit me. Show it where the bumper was secure, not flapping. That was the incident. You watch all the coverage and they take it out of context. They don’t have the story right.”
It’s led to confusion among fans who have angrily tweeted to Biffle since the confrontation with Johnson that it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who actually damaged Biffle’s bumper. Biffle said there were two separate incidents, one with Earnhardt and one with Johnson, and TV has failed to tell the entire story or show that his Roush-Fenway Racing team stopped to repair the bumper after Earnhardt caused damage.
“Lots of people were confused: ‘Oh, he didn’t know the bumper got torn off by the 88,’ ” Biffle said. “Well, I’m driving the car, okay? I had to pit and fix the bumper because NASCAR wanted us to work on it. I love the guys on Twitter, they’re showing me this picture: ‘The bumper is already coming off, see?’ Yeah, that was before we fixed it. Not after.”
Biffle is annoyed by the entire controversy, insisting he was the victim on Sunday who has now been attacked by fans for defending himself against Johnson.
“I went over to tell him I was unhappy about it, I would do it again today,” Biffle said. “Isn’t this what the fans want to see? Don’t they want to see passion and emotion? Well, it’s going to be five more years before I grab somebody by the collar. Why? Because I got chopped up. That stuff affects you.”
Although he said he planned to call Johnson, Biffle couldn’t help but fire a warning as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway with Johnson and Matt Kenseth tied in the race for the Sprint Cup championship.
Biffle asked reporters if Johnson will have a reinforced bumper for Sunday’s race.
“He’s running for a title, right?” Biffle asked. “Just checking.”