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NASCAR will not penalize Kevin Harvick for striking Jimmie Johnson

No penalties for Kevin Harvick, who struck Jimmie Johnson after Sunday’s race.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will not face any punishment for hitting Jimmie Johnson following Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway. NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell announced the decision in an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning.

"That is emotion coming out when the stakes are really high in the Chase," O'Donnell said. "We've got a reigning champion who finds himself in a tough spot, really needing to win (to avoid playoff elimination) so you can understand the frustration. You don't like to see what happened, but from our standpoint that's just pure emotion when the stakes are high and knowing how important it is to go out and win a championship."

Harvick was upset with Johnson after contact between the two on a restart resulted in Harvick suffering a punctured tire and subsequently crashing. He finished 42nd in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and is endanger of not advancing past Round 1 of NASCAR's playoffs.

When the 400 concluded, Johnson went to Harvick's motor coach in the drivers' lot to explain the incident. But when Harvick emerged from his bus he struck Johnson in the chest with a closed fist. Johnson then pointed at Harvick, who was quickly restrained by his business manager, before walking away shaking his head.

"I just held my ground and (Johnson) just slammed into the side of the door like I wasn't even there," Harvick said. "My spotter was telling me four-wide and I guess he just figured that he'd come up the race track."