By admin | August 6, 2012
By Richard Allen
On what proved to be the race’s final restart, five time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson made what appeared to be a very uncharacteristic mistake as he raced side by side into turn one of the Pocono Raceway with Matt Kenseth. The #48 car bobbled and then slid up the track taking Kenseth into the outside wall and setting off a chain reaction wreck that also involved Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin.
According to Johnson, the right rear tire on his Chevrolet had gone soft. No matter what the reason, everything strangely enough worked out in favor of the Hendrick Motorsports organization as a whole.
Johnson, of course, drives for HMS along with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
After the Johnson/Kenseth incident is when things really began to fall into place for Team Hendrick. Rain clouds loomed ominously over the giant 2.5 mile triangular track when the caution flag waved for the final time on lap 91 of the scheduled 160 lap event. As luck would have it, it was Gordon who was able to take advantage of the mishap among the lead duo and claim the top spot on the leader board.
Gordon would then be able to cruise around with the lead under caution until the race was finally stopped for good on lap 98 after heavy rains began to fall. That win was not only significant in that it ended a run of terrible luck for the #24 team but it also moved Gordon into the 13th place of the overall Sprint Cup standings. That, in turn, placed him as the second highest running driver with a win who is outside the top-10.
This means Gordon is now in position to claim a spot in the Chase for the Championship playoff as a wildcard entrant. That was something considered virtually unthinkable just a few short weeks ago as the four time Sprint Cup champion resided outside the top-20 in the standings.
So clearly, Jeff Gordon benefited from the bobble in turn one by teammate Jimmie Johnson.
But the good luck to befall Hendrick Motorsports didn’t end there. Earnhardt, who had suffered transmission troubles early in the race, looked as if he might lose the points lead he had taken only one week earlier. Both Kenseth and Biffle appeared poised to move past the popular driver as each of those Roush Fenway competitors ran in the top-5 with the rain drawing nearer to the speedway.
However, with both drivers falling back in the running order as a result of their crash, Junior was able to maintain the top spot in the standings by a narrow margin.
And lastly, Johnson’s late race misfortune proved beneficial to teammate Kasey Kahne as well. As the cars rode around under the final caution, the right rear tire on the #5 began losing air. Had the cleanup from the wreck not taken so long, he would have had to pit and would have dropped well back in the finishing order.
That could have proven costly in the standings. But instead, Kahne coasted to a 2nd place finish in Pocono and currently sits in the 11th overall spot of the Sprint Cup standings. And like Gordon, he holds one of the two wildcard spots for the Chase.
Late Sunday afternoon, it looked as if Jimmie Johnson was going to score his second consecutive Sprint Cup win and assure himself more bonus points for the Chase re-set. Instead, he saw what looked to be a certain win slip away. All the while, he aided each of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in the process.
Even Johnson probably didn’t realize what a team player he was.
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