Jimmie Johnson saw his lead over Denny Hamlin shrink to 6 Points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings following Hamlinâ€™s win in the Tums Fast Relief 50 at Martinsville Sunday.
That lead may vanish altogether by Tuesday if NASCAR issues a penalty for a part that was confiscated from the No. 48 Chevrolet before the race started.
Dale Earnhardt Jr led 90 laps in todayâ€™s race after starting from the 28th position. Juniorâ€™s No. 88 was just tight enough to make it fast and he rocketed through the field to the lead.
No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus saw how fast Junior was coming. H e radioed to Jimmie Johnson â€œif you hear a great scream and roar youâ€™ll know that Dale took the leadâ€ as Earnhardt closed in on the top spot.
As the field closed in on lap 300 that roar happened as Earnhardt passed Jeff Gordon for the lead.
For 90 laps Earnhardt Nation cheered on their driver. But when Dale made a pit stop the adjustments made the car too tight and it would no longer turn in the corners. Earnhardt fell back to finish 7th.
Gordon turned by Busch
Jeff Gordon was a little too aggressive when he made contact as he passed Kurt Busch on lap 385. Busch immediately returned the favor and put Gordon into the inside retaining wall. I donâ€™t think the payback fit the crime. Do you?
Trouble between teammates
Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick had a little dust-up for several laps as both drivers complained that the other was bumping and banging them.
Part Confiscated from No. 48
Prior to the race NASCAR confiscated a drive shaft cover from the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson. The part is headed back to NASCARâ€™s Research & Development in Charlotte.
If the part is found illegal will they issue a penalty or let it slide? A drive shaft cover seems like a pretty insignificant part as far as a competitive advantage goes. But remember that Clint Bowyer was docked 100 Championship Points a few weeks ago for an height infraction that amounted to about the thickness of a quarter.
That penalty cost Bowyer the lead in the Championship standings. Will Jimmie Johnson get the same call?
In the media center after the race Johnson pleaded ignorance about the part in question. â€œI don’t know what you’re speaking about, to be honest with you. Is this before or after, Johnson asked. When told it was a pre-race issue Johnson responded: â€œI don’t have a clue. Not my job, man, as Juan would say. â€œ
Weâ€™ll see what NASCAR has to say.
Mark Martin went 2 laps down early in the race after a crash into the outside wall. Martin rebounded to finish 2nd in a wrecked race car. â€œReally a great time, great recovery from two laps down,â€ said Martin.
â€œThat last hundred laps was fun. I’ve had guys pass me and I wondered how in the world they did that. Now I see how. What an incredible race car that Alan Gustafson and everyone gave me.â€
As always your comments and opinions are welcome. What was your take on the race?
Greg Biffle said he was embarrassed by the performance of his No. 16 Ford in the early going of the Sunoco Red Cross 500 at Pocono Raceway today.Â But by the end of the race it was Biffle embarrassing the rest of the field by opening up a 5 second lead over 2nd place Tony Stewart.
â€œThis oneâ€™s for Jack,â€ Biffle said as he streaked toward the checkered flag. Team owner Jack Roush was injured in a private jet crash earlier this week.
This was one of those races where just when you think you have everything figured out, everything changed.
Greg Biffle never had a winning car until the final pit stop, when he took 2 tires to gain track position. Jeff Gordon, who looked to have the car to beat at that point took 4 tires and re-started 13th.Â Gordon was never a factor after that.
But it was Sam Hornish who almost walked away with the victory after staying on the track during the final round of pit stops and inheriting the race lead. The race was red flagged for rain with Hornish being shown as the race leader. It looked for a while like the race would be called. But the rain stopped in time and racing resumed.
Elliott Sadler has Engine Problems
It was Elliott Sadler and Kurt Busch who were caught in the big wreck today. Sadler took one of the hardest hits NASCAR has seen in a long time, crashing his No. 19 straight into the corner of steel and earth reinforced guardrail. The impact was so violent that the engine was ripped from his car and landed several hundred feet down the racetrack. It was almost surreal when the car was towed back to the garage by one tow truck, and then a few minutes later along comes another wrecker carrying the engine.
After climbing from the car with a dazed look on his face Sadler had to lie down on the race track to catch his breath. Eventually he got up and walked to the waiting ambulance under his own power.
As much as anyone wants to complain about the COT — I have to remember that the reason for it is driver safety. Without that car Elliott Sadler does not walk away.
Busch Angry with Johnson
Kurt Busch later blamed Jimmie Johnson for starting the wreck. â€œJimmie drove through us,â€ said an angry Busch.
Jimmie Johnson looked to have the car to beat early in todayâ€™s race. Johnson led 96 laps â€“ more than any other driver — but he and Chad Knaus got behind on adjustments to the car as the race progressed and saw what had been a dominating performance turn into a struggle to keep up.
Usually the No. 48 team is the master of keeping up with the race track. But not today.
A Nice Crowd
The grandstands and campgrounds at Pocono were jam packed today. A nice turnaround from last week at Indy. Itâ€™s time for NASCAR to re-think holding races at tracks that donâ€™t support it. The fans have spoken with their race tickets.
Have Your Say
Iâ€™d like to know what your thoughts are on todayâ€™s race. What did you see and how did you feel about it? Your opinion counts â€“ so have at it.
Michigan Answer Back: Have Your Say
Dale Earnhardt Jr saw some light at the end of the tunnel but it was Brian Vickers who took the checkered flag in the Carfax 400 at Michigan Sunday.
Vickers gave Toyota their first win at the Brooklyn, Michigan track that has long been dominated by Ford and Chevy. The track is in the backyard of the Big 3 US Automakers.
Vickers got the win by stretching his gas mileage and drafting Jimmie Johnson in the races closing laps. I think even Vickers was surprised he could make it on fuel.
â€œComing to two to go I’m still sweating bullets, said Vickers. â€œWhen Jimmie ran out I knew at that point we had enough lead on Jeff that all I had to do was get to the finish.Â But it was definitely a sickening feeling in the bottom of my stomach we could run out at any minute.Â I felt confident about how much I saved, but itâ€™s hard not to worry about it.â€
Dale Earnhardt Jr and his fans finally had a reason to celebrate today after Junior led some laps and took the No. 88 Chevy home third.
â€œWell, I don’t want to get too excited,â€ said Dale Jr.Â â€œYou want to be up front every week like this.Â You want to be there the whole race.Â You don’t want to just come up there through the last 50 laps and surprise everybody.â€
â€œWe’re working really hard,â€ said Earnhardt.Â â€œNever worked so hard to run third.Â I’ve won races working a whole lot easier than this.â€
Earnhardt rebounded after pitting early with a vibration. â€œWe had gotten really loose, said Earnhardt.Â I flipped off the right front blower.Â I got this real bad vibration after about 30 laps.â€
Mark Martin was one of the big losers today; finishing 31st. Martin was the next to the last car on the lead lap and dropped to 12th in the points standings. Martin is in danger of falling out of Chase contention.
Jeff Gordon rallied from a hard crash last week at Watkins Glen to finish 2nd. Gordon continued to deny that his back was bothering him â€“ even though he appeared pretty stiff during the pre-race ceremonies. â€œMy back is fine, said Gordon from the media center after the race.Â â€œ I would rather be third in points right now and had that win today.Â That’s all that really matters at this point for us.Â We’re having a great year.Â We’re showing that we’re strong, a great team.â€
Fuel strategy bit Jimmie Johnson when he ran out of gas while leading in the raceâ€™s closing laps. Brian Vickers took over the top spot and held it to the finish.
So whatâ€™s your take on the race? I know youâ€™ve got an opinion â€“ letâ€™s hear it.