Just two races into the season, and NASCAR already has a little driver discord.
Jimmie Johnson didn't like the way Carl Edwards restarted the race at Phoenix, intimating Edwards didn't follow the rules to the letter while snapping his 70-race winless streak.
"I felt like Carl didn't follow the restart protocol and was slower than the pace car on his last two restarts, and it gives the leader a huge advantage when that happens," Johnson said after the race.
It's no surprise that Edwards felt it was Johnson, who was lined up behind Edwards in third on one restart — and next to Edwards in second on another — who was playing the games.
"I thought, 'Man, he's playing some kind of trick, he's speeding up,' " Edwards said about the final restart. "I thought, 'What's he doing?' I thought he was speeding up, and I thought it was pretty genius what he was doing because he kind of got me off of my game. But then when I went, I think maybe he wasn't looking at me or something because it seemed like he waited just a little bit too long to go.
"But truthfully that was not by design. I was not trying to do anything tricky. … I thought he was."
Now the two go to Las Vegas, where they could be racing each other at the end for the victory.
Both Johnson and Edwards are among the top active drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with a combined six victories in the desert.
HAMLIN FINED: Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 by NASCAR on Thursday for criticizing the new Gen-6 race car after last week's race at Phoenix, and the furious driver said he won't pay.
Hamlin compared the new race car unfavorably to last year's car after his third-place finish, angering NASCAR officials who are concerned about the Gen-6 car's perception. Hamlin's comments were barely noticed last weekend, but NASCAR leveled a significant fine against him before an open test at Las Vegas.
"The truth is what the truth is, and I don't believe in this," Hamlin said. "And so as far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to pay the fine. If they suspend me, they suspend me at this point."
Hamlin might not have a choice: According to NASCAR rules, unpaid fines may be deducted from a driver's purse or point fund earnings.