NASCAR »

Johnson's restart slips gift Kurt the win

AJ Allmendinger won the race off pit road after a mix of strategies, followed by Kevin Harvick, David Reutimann, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, but the restart on lap 180 was short-lived when Bobby Labonte immediately went for a slide. When they tried again, Harvick took over the lead ahead of Johnson, while Edwards found himself stuck in traffic back in ninth and complaining of being loose. But Harvick's two-tyre strategy left him vulnerable, and so Johnson took over and pulled out a big lead as the race passed the midway point, becoming 'legal' even if the rain did move in from this here on. Matt Kenseth was also having a good stint and duly moved up to second, he and Johnson separating themselves from Kurt Busch was who leading the chasing pack.

The next round of pit stops - under green once more - started from lap 243, and they were a welcome sight for several cars including Harvick, who had dropped out of the top ten on waning form, and Keselowski whose performance had dropped off a cliff after power steering problems that put him a lap down. It also seemed like good timing for Edwards, who despite running in fourth still wanted the #99 tightened up a little. But it would prove to be a costly pit stop indeed for Edwards, after he was handed a drive-thru for speeding in pit lane, putting him a lap down in 25th place.

Another caution for rain on lap 256 enabled a return visit to pit lane for some, and when racing resumed on lap 264 Jimmie Johnson led Kenseth and Kurt Busch to the green flag. Ten laps later Johnson had a 2.3s lead over Kenseth, despite the #48 crew chief Chad Knaus repeatedly asking Johnson to be mindful of fuel conservation.

Edwards quickly recovered to 22nd position - first car off the lead lap after his pit lane speeding penalty - and stayed there until a debris caution on lap 300 following JJ Yeley hitting the wall in turn 4, which gave him the free pass back onto the lead lap at long last.

"We were very, very fortunate," Edwards conceded later. "As frustrated as I am with myself for messing that up, I'm really, really grateful for the gift that was given to us with that caution and the ability to come back up there."

The ensuing pit stops did little to shake up the order, and on lap 306 Johnson was still in front for the restart ahead of Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne. Johnson once again shot off into the distance, while Kenseth's challenge was fading and Kurt Busch took him for second place. There was little point in anyone trying to save fuel at this point - everyone would have to come in one more time, it was just a matter of picking the right moment or waiting for the right caution.

The ninth yellow duly arrived on lap 352 when Mike Bliss got loose in turn 2 and hit the wall. Everyone came in, with the top eight all opting for the two-tyre gambit, with Johnson still in front of Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick.

After having been perfect on the restarts all afternoon, suddenly Johnson's touch failed him and he handed the advantage to Kurt Busch, who jumped out in front, but the race was quickly back to yellow after Greg Biffle spun and hit the inside wall on lap 362.

There were 34 laps to go to the chequered when the race resumed, and everything depended on Johnson getting a good run on Kurt Busch to regain the lead and pull out a safe lead. But he didn't manage it: instead, the #48 spun its tyres and Busch was released to safety. Johnson managed to regain his momentum to hold off a hard-charging Carl Edwards who had arrived on his tail to challenge for the second spot, despite the #48 struggling in the closing laps when it strayed into the rubber build-up on track.

Everyone managed to hold station, and with the rain now a distant memory (there had even been some outbreaks of sunshine reported) and no more cautions, the chequered flag was soon out to welcome Busch, Johnson and Edwards home after 400 laps.

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kurt Busch burns down his Goodyear Eagle tires after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, lead the field on the first lap of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for thirteenth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick will be joined by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Truex, Jr. will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday will be Gordon`s last race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, advances to the Championship 4 with his fourteenth place finish Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Truex, Jr. is joined with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.