Press Snoop: Johnson wins at Indy
7 August 2006
The Chequered and yellow flew at the same time for Points Leader Jimmie Johnson who won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He led twice. This is his fourth victory this season.
He said "A special day, winning both Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. I rallied back after a tyre problem. I want to pucker up and kiss those bricks." Although he kept saying he was totally speechless, the words kept coming.
Johnson had a front tire deflate and a subsequent fire after he pitted. It was quickly extinguished, but it put him down on the field. Afterwards, Greg Stucker, Goodyear Director of race tyre sales and marketing said "In talking with the team, it appears the set-up was very aggressive in the left front position. The team recognised that and went up on inflation pressure and had no more problems the rest of the day."
Tyre wear was a concern all weekend. Before the start of the race, Goodyear asked for two Competition Cautions to assess tyre wear, rather than the one earlier reported. The first one was at Lap 16 for three laps, and the second one at Lap 41. All cars had to change tyres. For the first Caution most tyres were clean, although Kurt Busch had to come back in to have a loose lug nut tightened.
After all was said and done, it didn't seem as though tyres were much of an issue. Stucker said "As we expected going into today's race, Goodyear tyre wear improved throughout the day, and by Lap 40, we were very happy with what we saw on the cars. We continued to see improvements throughout the afternoon, including complete green flag fuel runs during the event" - something NBC TV commentator Benny Parsons said he hadn't expected to see.
The results, even unofficially, haven't yet been released by NASCAR as they are pending an inquiry on the last lap, which saw the white flag fly, then the caution half way through the last lap. Stay tuned.
Here's what I know so far, unofficially.
Matt Kenseth was second, and in the standings.
Kevin Harvick was third, followed by his teammate, Clint Bowyer-the top Rookie, and Mark Martin. Afterwards Martin said "This old man ain't gave up yet" But he wouldn't comment further on next year's plans.
It was 88 degrees and climbing for the race, with 40 percent humidity and only a nine mph breeze. The many flags hung limply on their poles. Everywhere folks were fanning themselves.
Team owner Richard Childress was a happy camper Sunday, with two of his cars running 1-2 for a while and his Rookie running well. RCR ended up with a third, fourth and twelfth for Pole sitter Jeff Burton, who led six times for 87 laps. After a character building season Childress made wholesale changes in his team and it has paid off.
No one was injured in any of the incidents.
Jeff Gordon pitted early for broken swap bar caused by deflating tyre and gained two back via Lucky Dogs during Caution. He finished sixteenth, on the lead lap.
Kenny Wallace stayed out one lap during each Competition Caution, briefly inheriting the lead each time.
Boris Said retired early in his third run as a driver/team co-owner after being hit by Rookie Reed Sorensen. Said hit SAFER Barrier in Turn Three, saying someone got into him-he didn't know who, but it was "just a racing deal." Sorenson blamed Said for moving down on him. His next race in his selected schedule is next weekend on the road course at Watkins Glen, where he has much experience.
Jeremy Mayfield had handling problems and hit the Turn One SAFER Barrier, causing a long pit stop for repairs to left rear quarter-panel and right front fender. He finished 41st, 43 laps down.
Elliott Sadler had a short day, hitting the Turn Two wall in Lap Four, after a less than stellar weekend. He lost air and badly bent the rear clip. Sadler apologised for causing the crash. It also damaged Joe Nemechek, who finished twenty-fourth, on the lead lap.
Kurt Busch, Chad Chaffin and Dale Jarrett dropped to the back for the start: Busch for backup car and Chaffin and Jarrett for engine changes. Busch finished tenth, Chaffin thirtieth, two laps down, and Jarrett was twenty-eighth on the lead lap.
Johnson and his wife Chandra are raising $600,000 to build a bowling alley, called Victory Lanes, at the Victory Junction Camp. Half of the money will come from a donation from Johnson's sponsor, Lowe's, through its Charitable and Educational Foundation.
Chandra, Crew Chief Chad Knaus, and the team joined Johnson in the traditional kissing the bricks ceremony after the win.
Harvick won Saturday night's Busch Series race at O'Reilly Raceway Park, and stretched even further his impressive lead to 374 points ahead of Carl Edwards in the standings. The top five finishers were Buschwhackers - of the 11 in the race. The top Busch regular was Danny O'Quinn who finished sixth.
The next NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race will be next weekend at Watkins Glen International, the second of two road courses on the schedule.