Tensions boiled over between Justin Johnson, Justin T. Carroll and their respective teams on Saturday night during a Late Model Stock feature at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, North Carolina.
After finishing in third, Johnson was confronted on the frontstretch post-race by Carroll’s crew and tackled to the ground following late-race contact between him and Carroll’s driver Jacob Heafner.
A separate fight then broke out in the pits, which resulted in Carroll’s father needing several staples to his head after getting hit with a torque wrench.
Johnson never envisioned that the contact with Heafner would escalate into two massive post-race altercations.
“I honestly don’t know what the fussing and fighting was about,” Johnson said. “It’s embarrassing to be a part of but we were on the frontstretch in victory lane and got rushed by five or six people. I though it was over, but our tires got slashed and then they came at us again.”
The altercations started after confusion occurred between Johnson and Heafner prior to choosing a lane on the last restart.
Johnson chose the outside lane but noticed Heafner moving his car up the track repeatedly under caution to try and get into the top groove, resulting in the two making contact.
While Johnson was confused as to why Heafner made the move, Carroll said the incident is Johnson’s responsibility.
“You don’t get to choose until the one to go signal,” Carroll said. “They gave us the two-to-go signal and we stayed to the outside of it. Johnson tried to drive to our outside and before they red flagged the race, Justin drove into Jacob’s left-side door for no reason and killed it.”
Johnson and Heafner engaged in an intense fight for the lead once the green flag came back out despite damage to their cars. Another late collision with Johnson damaged Heafner’s car further and relegated him to sixth.
Carroll’s team was not pleased with Johnson’s driving and made their way towards the frontstretch to confront him before being separated.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 16, 2021
Frustrations continued to be vented out on pit road between the two sides before the second major fight broke out shortly after post-race ceremonies for the Late Model Stock race concluded.
Johnson and his wife Brittany both had tools in their possession during the second fight, which ended with Carroll’s father being sent to a nearby hospital.
Johnson said that he had the torque wrench in his hand as a means of self-defense, claiming that members of Carroll’s crew threw parts at him prior to the fight.
The two veterans disagreed over the circumstances that resulted in Carroll’s father receiving staples to his head, with each side claiming that the other intruded into their pit area.
Video of the altercation at Tri-County…
Both driver and woman appear to have used the Torque wrench as a weapon.
Not sure on the condition of victim as of now. pic.twitter.com/lfbjYmssE9
— Windshield Deep (@WindshieldDeep) May 16, 2021
There are two Carrolls that compete in Late Model Stocks in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Justin S. Carroll from Williamsburg, Virginia occasionally competes in both ARCA and NASCAR while Justin T. Carroll has spent most of his career racing at tracks around North Carolina.
Saturday was not the first time that Johnson has come together with the latter Carroll this year, as Heafner voiced his displeasure with Kaden Honeycutt for aggressive driving at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Johnson had previously worked with Carroll near the end of the decade when he came back from his brief retirement in 2018 before deciding to focus on his own Late Model Stock program.
Johnson is unsure why there is animosity between the programs but said that he is ready to move forward from Tri-County and focus on next weekend.
While Carroll also hopes to avoid further conflict with Johnson or his drivers, he said that he is not going to tolerate anything overly-aggressive going forward.
“I never wanted this to start,” Carroll said. “Time and time again, he has run into my cars and we’re tired of it. You can only be pushed around so long before enough is enough. What happened at [Tri-County] is inexcusable and should have never happened.”
Johnson has never seen anything similar to Tri-County unfold at any track during his career and hopes that he never has to experience anything like it again.
“This was embarrassing for our partners and supporters,” Johnson said. “I wish there was a way to avoid it but you just can’t turn and run the other way when victory lane and your pits get bum-rushed.”
While Johnson and Carroll’s teams do not regularly compete against each other, the two said they intend to keep their distance whenever they arrive at the same track for the foreseeable future.
It is not clear if any charges will be filed following Saturday’s fights at Tri-County. Short Track Scene reached out to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office for comment.