Is Kurt Busch Allowing Jimmie Johnson Back In His Head In NASCAR Chase?

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Power of Pride Chevrolet, shakes hands with Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 10, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia. Both Johnson and Busch clinched spots in the "Chase for the Sprint Cup." (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch rekindled his feud with Jimmie Johnson with his post-race comments at Dover. Claiming to be focused solely on the NASCAR Chase, is Busch allowing Johnson to creep back in his head?

Following his win at Dover last weekend, Kurt Busch has once again reasserted his presence in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Yet at the same time he single-handedly rekindled his on-going feud with Jimmie Johnson.  

Saying it was "icing on the cake" to beat his "arch nemesis" Busch once again added fuel to a fire that had smoldered out following its dramatic episode at Richmond International Raceway.

Let's recap what took place that weekend.

Racing hard for position early in the race, Busch locked up the left front tire underneath Johnson as they headed into the first corner. Busch's car slid up the track and into Johnson's, sending the No. 48 into the outside wall and out of contention for the win.

After making repairs, Johnson returned the favor later in the race. Nearly wrecking just to get to Busch, Johnson got into the back of the No. 22 turned both cars around in the same spot on the track.

Following the race, Busch proudly told the television coverage, "I know we're in his head."

Yet when non-televised media attempted to follow up on the same topic, Busch threatened violence in one case and ripped a transcript in another.

Heading into the Chase, Busch admitted the pair needed to stop wrecking race cars, but had to "continue to put on a good show." 

"I mean, that's what our fans buy the tickets for and they want to see a genuine rivalry between drivers but we've got our work cut out for us in this Chase and the focus of 10 weeks," he said. 

Fast-forward to last weekend and Busch is once again igniting the Busch-Johnson feud with his post-race comments at Dover.

Busch said racing Johnson for the win was "on my mind but it wasn't" and reasserted it was "sweet to beat your arch nemesis."

Unprovoked nor prodded by the media, Busch went out of his way to comment on Johnson, making their on-track battles seem like some sort of comic book saga.

While he appeared to make things very personal, Busch later credited his joy to beating the five-time championship team, whom he said were "strong, and they always will be."

So when Busch takes it upon himself to talk about the joys of beating Johnson, the question has to be raised, who is really in the other's head?

There is little doubt the No. 22 team will be a serious contender for the championship this year, but if they want to be successful, Busch needs to remain serious. Although he contends he is focused entirely on the Chase, Busch's comments seem to show the five-time defending champion is still lingering in his mind.

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