Kevin Harvick’s 42nd-place finish at Chicagoland was directly attributable to side-to-side contact between his No. 4 Chevy and Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48.
The two cars rubbed moments after a restart, with Harvick pinning Johnson’s Chevy down on the apron and Johnson forcing his way back onto the track after going three-wide to the inside.
Trying to sort out the incident, Johnson approached Harvick in the motor coach lot after the race and got a blow to the chest for his efforts.
“I wasn’t surprised that he was that upset,” Johnson said on Friday, after qualifying fifth for Sunday’s race. “Believe me, I knew good and well going over there that he wasn’t going to be in the best mood.
“It was just important to me to try and make contact with him and try to talk to him, based on experiences that I’ve had in the position that it has put me in. That’s what led me to going over there.”
Johnson and Harvick haven’t spoken since, and the six-time champion will take the green flag on Sunday not knowing what Harvick’s disposition on the track might be.
“I truthfully don’t know what to expect,” Johnson said. “I certainly know what I hope for, but there is no telling what will end up taking place. I think that’s the exciting part about this Chase and the way you can advance, the way you can win to carry on and the intensity that it brings.
“So, it’s definitely going to be an exciting Chase for everyone, and right now everybody is focused on us. But who is to know after this weekend what conflict on track is going to be the next story?”