Biffle discusses apology over Martinsville incident with Johnson

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In a NASCAR teleconference this afternoon, Greg Biffle shed some more light on his post-race confrontation with Jimmie Johnson last Sunday and his subsequent apology over the incident on Twitter.

Biffle indicated to the media that the apology was directed to the fans for how he handled the matter, not to Johnson in particular – although he did say he was planning to call the five-time Sprint Cup champion.

Following the end of Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway, Biffle grabbed Johnson by the collar on pit road and turned him around before delivering some choice words.

Contact between the two drivers caused the rear bumper cover on Biffle’s No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to start flapping in the air, and that eventually forced Biffle, who was running in the Top 10 at the time, to pit road for repairs.

Biffle would charge from mid-pack over the final 100+ laps to finish ninth, but that didn’t stop him from being frustrated with Johnson, who said he had been trying to go to the inside of Biffle when they came together.

But today, Biffle insisted that Johnson hit him in the rear end after his bumper cover was initially dislodged by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“When I was walking over there, I was furious,” Biffle recalled. “We had a great car. Nobody knows this, but we had the fastest car the last 65 laps of that race. We closed in on the leader by five seconds from the start of that run to the end of it. We closed in on the 24 car [race winner Jeff Gordon[ by that much. I had to start to the back and drove to ninth.

“The other misconception was that everybody said, ‘You should be mad at the 88 [Earnhardt], he ripped your bumper off.’ We came in and fixed it [the first time] and started at the back. The 48 car [Johnson] ran square in the back of my car, not inside of me, like his claim when I came up and talked to him about it.”

Nonetheless, Biffle felt that he should’ve addressed the situation better despite his anger at not being able to race for the win with a car he felt was up to the task.

“It just didn’t transpire and I was a little upset about that,” he said. “So I should have handled that a little differently with Jimmie. I didn’t realize he was in the middle of his interview. I thought he was talking to some print reporters when I first went over there.

“I didn’t realize he was on camera. I apologize for that. I should have maybe waited till he was done and then had my conversation with him in private with no cameras or media around.”

Verizon confirms IndyCar title sponsor role exit after 2018

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As perhaps expected, Verizon has confirmed Friday it will end its role as Verizon IndyCar Series title sponsor following the end of its fifth year in 2018.

Reports surfaced shortly after this year’s IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway that Verizon was re-evaluating its role within the series.

Indeed, as it was before becoming title sponsor in 2014, Verizon will remain a partner with Team Penske despite not also carrying the series title sponsor role.

In a statement, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles thanked Verizon for its support in this overall series role.

“Verizon has been a super sponsor and will continue to be so through all of next season. We appreciate that they reached their decision in a timely way so that we can thoughtfully and deliberately go back into the market for 2019,” Miles said in a statement, via Sports Business Journal.

Roger Penske also issued a statement, also via SBJ, saying, “We want to thank Verizon for the support they have provided the IndyCar Series and the role they have played as they helped us grow the sport as the title sponsor for the past five years. Verizon has helped the series reach new fans through their world-class activation and technology, including the Verizon IndyCar Mobile App. While they will no longer be the Series Title Sponsor after 2018, it is exciting they will still be in the sport through their relationship with our organization.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series has built a wave of momentum over the last few years with its competition level, parity and enthusiasm for some revived events, with Gateway Motorsports Park and Road America standing out as highlights being brought back after an extended hiatus.

The good news for INDYCAR (sanctioning body) is that there’s a new Dallara universal aero kit that’s been busy with testing the last few months and is now in the hands of manufacturers for manufacturer testing, and the series announced long-term extensions with Dallara, Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone earlier this year. New series champion Josef Newgarden has also been busy in a number of media events and appearances since the Sonoma season finale.

With this confirmation, INDYCAR has a new entitlement sponsor to find and a new TV contract to sort, with both existing contracts up after 2018.