Dale Jr: Support Driver for Jimmie Johnson?
Is Dale Earnhardt Jr a Support Driver for Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Team?
Jimmie Johnson did not win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday without the help he received from teammate and drafting partner Dale Earnhardt Jr. If Earnhardt had gotten just an inch further back Johnson would never have made it. The margin of victory was that close – .002 seconds and a tie for one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history with 6 cars crossing the finish line virtually as one. Johnson grabbed the lead for the final time just 6 inches from the finish line.
Earnhardt was a good team player. He needs to put that one in the bank because Jimmie Johnson owes him big time.
Johnson knows it too. Jimmie Johnson gave Dale Earnhardt Jr the checkered flag that he picked up at the finish line, although Earnhardt seemed a little reluctant to accept it. I wonder what Dale Jr will do with that flag.
So why did Jimmie Johnson give Dale Jr the checkered flag?
“Just came to mind,” said Johnson flatly. “I handed it to him and he said ‘Man, I don’t want that.’ I said, Well, I have to give you something for the push and working with me. He said, ‘No, that’s what teammates do.’
“I smiled and I said take the damn flag. I’ll give you the trophy, too. He says, ‘No, I don’t want the trophy. I’ll take the flag, though.’
“Man, he’s a riot.” Johnson continued on the subject of Dale Jr. “You guys scan all the time but to hear him on the channel and Stevie and the things he talks about — can I have this channel more often just to listen?
As Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy raced toward the finish line it almost appeared that his left wheels crossed below the double-yellow line for a split second but no penalty was assessed by NASCAR.
“I was not focused on where that yellow line was,” Jimmie Johnson explained after the race. “I was more worried about causing a big pile up and luckily the 5 quit coming down and then the 24 pulled back up. So I don’t know where my left side tires were, but I’ve heard that a statement has been released and everything is cool. So I’m glad I’m not sitting here having to worry about that.
For a few seconds after the race it was unclear who had won. Then Dale Jr came on the radio and said “Hell, I think the 48 won.”
“I knew in my mind that if it that was the checkered, it was close, and I didn’t know if I had it won, said Johnson.
After the race No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus summed it up with a quick radio call to Dale Earnhardt Jr: “Next one is on us, brother.”
So now it’s your turn to have your say. As always, you can vent or you can cheer. The floor is yours. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And if you like this be sure to hit the Facebook Like Button.