UPS Game-Changing Moment: Dover
June 03, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Moments that changed the course of the race at the Monster Mile
JOHNSON LATE RESTART
Instead of battling for the win, Jimmie ended up 17th after serving a drive-through penalty in the waning laps. And the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion said he absolutely planned on having a discussion with NASCAR about the situation.
Running alongside then-race leader Juan Pablo Montoya on a restart with 19 laps remaining, Johnson's Chevy lunged forward in front of the field as the green flag waved and Montoya’s Chevy lagged.
“Whatever happened, he just did not go,’’ Johnson explained after the race. “At a certain point I didn’t know if he was even under power.
“I wish I had handled it differently. But (If I hadn’t gone) I would have been passed by at least the 42 (Montoya) if not two or three others. Once you get up to speed and the pack gets rolling it’s real hard to give it back and have it be fair for everyone."
NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton stood by the decision to penalize Johnson and said he’d welcome any conversation the champ wanted to pursue.
“That was an easy call, a very easy call,’’ Pemberton said. “He (Johnson) beat the 42 even out of the box from what we could see on the film. And we give them an opportunity to give it back.’’
KENSETH BLOWS AN ENGINE
Matt Kenseth became the second Joe Gibbs Racing driver to suffer engine failure in the last two weeks, his day done after leading 29 laps at Dover International Speedway.
Kenseth, a winner of three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season, had beaten teammate Kyle Busch off pit road following the day’s second caution and was out front when the issue arose.
"(There’s) nothing I can do about it," Kenseth said as he stood at the rear of the JGR Toyota hauler while racing resumed on the track. "I can’t do anything from a preparation standpoint, from a driving standpoint I can’t be any easier on it.
“Something’s wrong. It’s not driver induced, it’s not too many miles of practice (on the engine). Something’s wrong and it broke.”
STEWART STORMS TO THE FRONT
Tony Stewart, who drove from 12th to first over the final 40 laps of the race, was happy to take the win, no matter how it came his way. Coming on the heels of a seventh-place run last week at Charlotte, a 1.5-mile downforce track, Stewart was happy to point out the progress his team is making.
“It’s definitely momentum,” Stewart said. “We got two weeks of momentum under our belt now at two totally different race tracks. That is big. Momentum is huge in this sport. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We won’t sit… I guarantee you none of these guys behind you (his crew) will tell you we are exactly where we want to be right now. It’s a good reward for how hard they have been working to get that first win of the year.
“Now it’s trying to be more consistent and stay in the top-10 more and make our program better. It’s proof that no matter how bad it’s been this year, none of these guys have quit and given up. Just really proud of the effort this weekend; I think we probably made more gains from Friday to right now than any team in the garage did. I’m really proud of that fact.”
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