By admin | April 5, 2011
By Richard Allen
The term irony is often used to represent a situation in which there has been a twist in the literal meaning of something. For example, it would be ironic for a person who has received favorable rulings from a sanctioning body in the past to complain when that body has ruled against him in some way.
For five consecutive years Jimmie Johnson has won the Sprint Cup championship and for five consecutive years at least some fans have claimed that he has been able to do so because of favorable rulings handed down from NASCAR to his Hendrick Motorsports team. Whether true or not, there are those who argue that Johnson is not punished for infractions when others are. Perception is more important than truth in most cases.
In Martinsville on Sunday, Johnson was ticketed for speeding on pit road by NASCAR officials. The penalty for such is being made to start at the rear of the field on the restart after a caution or being made to pass through the pits at pit road speed if the infraction occurs during a green flag pit stop. In this particular case, the #48 car was sent to the rear on the restart after the final pit stop of the day which effectively ended any chance of winning Johnson may have had.
Mind you, I am not saying I think Johnson gets favorable treatment from NASCAR. I am saying that I hear that often from race fans I talk to and I read it often in the comments section of blogs such as this. I am also not saying that Johnson did or didn’t speed on pit road in Martinsville.
Johnson initially had very definite thoughts on the matter. “I wasn’t speeding,” Johnson declared. “They didn’t like how it looked. The way I managed my timing lines. There is just no way. People will say whatever. But with the math and the way we know our timing lines, there is just no way. You accelerate real hard through your timing zone.
“A lot of guys get dinged for that,” he continued. “I’ve been dinged a couple of different times. Usually you get dinged when you pass someone or break the plane of the car in front of you. With no one there, I accelerated like I always do, so from my mark, there is just no way. There is just no way.”
Over the team’s in-car radio after the penalty was called crew chief Chad Knaus concurred with Johnson, even going so far as to imply that NASCAR may have had it in for his team. “You know the deal,” said Knaus. “They’re just pissed because…you know why.”
For the record, I believe a number of teams, not just Hendrick, but also Roush, Childress and Gibbs receive treatment that is somewhat unbalanced in comparison to the lesser teams. Quite possibly, Johnson has been given a few breaks along the way over the past five seasons. But at the same time, drivers from each of the four power teams have also been given breaks that others might not receive.
And more, my suspicion is that Johnson was speeding on Sunday. The #48 team may have found a way to outsmart themselves in regard to their calculations of the timing lines.
Johnson himself relented a bit on his criticism of race officials on Tuesday. Still, however, he holds to his stance that NASCAR’s method of pit road timing is questionable.
But the irony comes from the fact that a driver and team who so many believe has been aided to his five championships complained that NASCAR conspired against them.
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