30 July 2012
Fourth Indianapolis win for Johnson
"We could stay up in the top ten most of the day but we didn't have a better car than that," admitted Kenseth. "If you put us seventh or eight we could run there and if you put us 15th we would run there unfortunately.
"We got back there and some guys were driving pretty crazy. I guess at the very end of it the #21 [Bayne] and #78 [Smith] were mad at each other and running into each other and then the #20 [Logano] was trying to pass the #21 and just lost control of his car."
It was a costly accident for Kenseth, who would end up classified in 35th position. With his main rivals in the Sprint Cup standings performing well, it meant that Kenseth was ousted from the lead of the championship after Indianapolis.
With just 20 laps to run to the finish when the green flag came out, Johnson had no hesitation in blasting away from the field as fast as he could. Any concerns about whether they could make it all the way home on their current tank of gas seemed to be far from their minds. Kyle Busch tried to go with the #48 but he was soon two seconds down, despite being fast enough to leave third-placed Greg Biffle far in his wake in turn. With no further interruptions to the race through to the chequered flag, Johnson managed to end up with a 4.758s comfort zone over the field, the biggest margin of victory seen in a Brickyard 400.
"He was really, really fast," admitted Busch on pit lane after the race. "You could see it, too - on the restarts, when he could make it through the corners and he just put his car anywhere he wanted and would just slam on the gas pedal and take off from me. His car was down and digging."
Busch was satisfied with his own pace and felt he could do no more, even though he badly needs more race victories to secure his place in the Chase on a wins wild card. "If it wasn't for the #48, we were probably in our own zip code on the rest of the field," insisted Busch. "But Jimmie Johnson was in his own country today, so we couldn't keep up with him."
Even Jeff Gordon - who had been bidding to make history by becoming a five-time oval winner here and breaking that tie with Foyt, Unser and Rick Mears and now Johnson on four apiece - conceded that he wouldn't have been able to do anything about his team mate's form here today, even without that final pit stop stumble for the #24.
"I don't think we could have passed him," said Gordon, who ended the race in fifth place. "Those guys were definitely the class of the field today and had the track position. They're a strong team. They deserve that win today. They did everything. Jimmie did his job on the track and the team did their job in the pits. And they had a good car."
He was still ruing the missed opportunity, though - the latest of so many in 2012, it seemed to him. "I'm pretty disappointed really. It's always nice to finish in the top five but at this point in the season, the way our season has gone with so many missed opportunities that we've had, I feel like it was a little bit of a missed opportunity today. We needed track position there at the end and we didn't get it when it counted most and it cost us."
But in victory lane, there was pure joy for race winner Jimmie Johnson who seemed to be pinching himself at his latest success.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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