A pit-road penalty that was all but unavoidable helped spoil a promising run by three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in the Pocono 500, having a long-term effect on his result.
Johnson was approaching the pit-road commitment line on lap 103 when a caution flew for debris in turn two and the light at the entrance to pit-road turned from green to red. Johnson proceeded to his pit, but had to restart at the rear of the field on lap 109 after being adjudged to have entered pit-road when it was closed.
Though he worked his way back to third late in the race, Johnson's #48 Chevrolet ran out of fuel on the final lap, and he coasted to a seventh-place finish.
“We were in great position and, unfortunately, coming to pit-road, the caution came out, and I couldn't see a flagman or lights or anything,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said, “Luckily, we rebounded from that and had a great car and drove up to the top five but, at the end, we were just playing a fuel game - and I didn't play it well enough."
Johnson admitted that he felt that more could be done to prevent a repeat of his problem with just a little thought about how the pit-lane signals are designed.
"I looked for [the light] later and saw it, a very small single light that's way out from the inside," he reported, "I think we need to re-look at those things at all these racetracks that help the guys that are pitting. Hopefully, they can look into a little better light system.”
by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service