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 this week during an appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
DRIVERS WARNED: Part of NASCAR’s town hall meeting with drivers and car owners last week focused on social media, not race cars.
The sanctioning body emphasized everyone has a responsibility not to say anything detrimental to the sport on Twitter or Facebook, and it reminded them it was monitoring sites.
The warning came hours after Corey LaJoie posted a note about following a man with a gray beard wearing a turban through airport security, saying the he should have been subject to a “cavity search” and just a couple weeks after truck series driver Nelson Piquet Jr. posted a gay slur.
“Well I think every person should have good common sense,” Jeff Gordon said. “I think that is what it really comes down to. I think with social media we all recognize that the fun it can be. We recognize the benefits it can have for marketing for our sponsors and so many other benefits. But also you have to be careful you can’t just go on a wild spree. You can’t always just speak your mind because it’s there.”
Other drivers have gotten into trouble using social media are Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.
MARATHON MEN: Last Sunday’s 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway took 3 hours, 44 minutes and 21 seconds to complete. For some drivers, it still wasn’t a test of endurance.
Johnson ran 20 miles Thursday as part of his exercise routine, so Sunday’s race was easy because he got to sit down the whole way.
He set out to run 17 miles Sunday, but he changed his mind knowing his closest competitor in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship was Matt Kenseth, who drive drives the No. 20 Toyota.
“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been building up,” Johnson said. “Last week I ran 17, the week before it was 15. 20 was the number my coach and I talked about it last week when we got to 17. As I got near the end of it I think my coach said 20 for the 20. That kind of planted the seed in my mind and helped me run strong at the end.
“No, I have just been training hard and working hard on things. Running those longer distances and paying attention to your heart rate, I ran a conservative heart rate for the first 17 and then at the end started building my heart rate up. I had some left in the tank. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but ran home real strong. I was happy about that.”
Johnson and Kasey Kahne often run triathlons. In fact, both ran in South Carolina one less than eight hours after driving 400 miles in July’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Johnson said the mental push it takes to finish long distance runs helps him stay focused during the waning laps of a long race.
“In the moment suffering on the bike or swimming or running or whatever it’s a similar mindset to driving the race car late in the race or an ill-handling race car, where it’s not fun, but you have to figure out how to get to the end as fast as you can,” he said.
Kenseth said he has no plans to make any long runs, especially 48 miles (Johnson’s car number).
“It would take me a week to run 20 miles even if somebody was chasing me,” he said.