There’s no doubt that Sunday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway was going to come down to a two-man duel between Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
Busch seizes the moment
Kyle Busch took advantage of a costly mistake by the four-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and pulled away for the win this past Sunday in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Johnson was flagged for speeding while exiting the pits during a round of green-flag stops on Lap 363 and forced to return to pit road to serve a pass-through penalty. This rare, but unwitty mistake by Johnson cost him a race that he clearly could have won.
Johnson was attempting to beat Busch off pit road at the time. He said he knew his penalty came shortly after he left his pit stall because by the time he reached the stall occupied by Busch, he already had conceded that Busch was going to beat his No. 48 Chevrolet back out onto the track. Johnson had been leading the race, with Busch second, when they came to the pits.
“It definitely cost us a top-two finish,” said Johnson, who led a total of eight times for a race-high 225 laps.
“I’m frustrated. I think we’ve got to be a little bit more aware of our acceleration of the car off pit road, and how we can get busted there. But outside of that, I can’t say we did anything else wrong all day. We led a bunch of laps, had great pit stops. I mean, across the board it was a great day. I just hate, that at the end, one small mistake knocked us back to a 16th-place finish.”
Johnson owns his mistake
As a direct result of the incident, Johnson dropped two spots in the point standings and was leap-frogged by Busch, who jumped two places to second. Yet Johnson did not seem too disturbed by the development. He politely answered all questions for several minutes afterward and blamed no one but himself for the costly mistake.
And he also made it very clear that his frame of mind is right for the the next points race at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in two weeks (May 30).
Only time will tell whether this is a lesson learned, or whether Johnson gets a bit jumpy when he’s under pressure? His record dictates that this was probably just a simple mistake…