By admin | June 30, 2013
By Richard Allen
There’s an old saying that declares, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” There’s another old saying that declares, “Jimmie Johnson has a golden horseshoe stuck up his ass.” On Sunday in the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway, it appeared as if the second of those two sayings would hold true for Jimmie Johnson. But in the end, it was the first saying that won out for the five time Sprint Cup champion.
Of course, Johnson and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports team have not won 63 races and five championships based entirely off of luck. But that is the perception at least some of his detractors have, so to at least a few, it’s true.
Early in the race, Denny Hamlin cut a right front tire and limped around to the pit area. As the #11 Toyota slowly cruised around an access road leading to the pits, his deflated tire came apart and a piece of it rolled onto the track. Leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr. nailed the carcass, which damaged the nose of the #88 car.
Johnson’s machine also hit the shredded tire, but his car did not suffer nearly as much damage as that of Junior’s. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if the crumpling done on the #48’s right front fender may have actually helped his handling.
Seemingly, Johnson is the only driver who could hit a piece of debris and actually improve his car.
Later in the race, Johnson and Kyle Busch attempted to maintain track position by faking a visit to pit road under caution then darting back onto the track. However, both drivers actually passed the pace car in so doing. That is supposed to draw a penalty from NASCAR, but it did not.
Clint Bowyer noted the lack of a penalty for the supposed infraction. “Tell the pace car, Brett Bodine, to not be brake checking. It causes people to pass him,” Bowyer sarcastically barked over his team radio. “Oh wait, I bet he had the cruise control set…at pace car speed.”
As the cars got the one-to-go signal for the restart at the end of that caution period, Bowyer added, “I’m going to just jump the pace car going into three and see if we can’t get a good run at it.”
However, Johnson’s so-called luck didn’t hold out for the full 400 miles of the event. On a late race restart, Matt Kenseth controlled the pace and caused somewhat of a bottleneck behind him. The #48 Chevrolet ultimately spun in turn two as multiple cars battled for position. That caused him to pit for new tires and fall to the back of the field.
“They better penalize that 20,” Johnson yelled into his team radio, referring to the speed at which Kenseth led the field to the green flag.
That comment prompted TNT television analyst Kyle Petty to remark, “Let’s just let Jimmie Johnson write the restart rules because he’s complained all year.”
Eventually, Johnson finished a disappointing 9th after leading a dominating 182 laps.
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