NASCAR Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson and 2002 Cup champion Tony Stewart didn’t part the best of friends Saturday night.
Nor were they buddies on the track during the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
On Lap 207, Johnson bumped Stewart from behind, sending the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet spinning and igniting a five-car accident, also involving Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd, Dave Blaney and Ken Schrader.
Johnson stayed out the melee and went on to finish 15th. Stewart limped home in 33rd.
Stewart was hopping mad. "The only way you spin out like that is when a guy jacks you up like that going into (turn) three," Stewart said. "I don’t know what he was doing. He was running guys up and down the racetrack. ... I don’t know what was wrong with him tonight."
Johnson had a different take.
"The last three or four weeks I’ve raced with him, when I get to him he’s mad that I’m going by and he starts flipping me off and chopping me and running me all over the place," Johnson said. "He started doing the same thing again."
Johnson tailed Stewart down the backstretch. "(He) runs me all over the place and then going in the turn and stands on the brakes to mess with me," Johnson said. "I ran out of room and got into the back of him."
PIR president Bryan Sperber has been helping oversee operations at California Speedway since January while officials at the Fontana, Calif., track search for a new president, but Sperber said he isn’t interested in the permanent job. "I can’t imagine leaving Phoenix to run any other track," he said.
Brad Weber, who portrays late NASCAR Cup champion Alan Kulwicki in "Dare to Dream — The Alan Kulwicki Story," was on hand for the race weekend, along with the movie’s executive producer, Bryan Madson.
The film opened on Friday at Harkins Theatres in the Valley. Kulwicki, who won the first-ever Cup race at PIR in 1988, went on to win the NASCAR championship in 1992 and was killed in a plane crash near Bristol, Tenn., on April 1, 1993.
Busch Series driver Reed Sorenson, will appear at Discount Tire Co., 1824 E. Camelback Road, in Phoenix from 8-9:30 a.m. Monday. Scottsdale-based Discount Tire Co. sponsors his No. 41 Dodge, and Sorenson will be on hand to help kick off National Tire Safety Week. Sorenson, 19, is second in the Busch Series driver points and winner of the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on March 26.
Kevin Lepage and Robby Gordon made engine changes before the race and were sent to the back of the field as was Mike Wallace, whose crew made an unapproved change (fixed a leaking break line) during the pre-race impound period