News & Media

Johnson apologizes for 'misinformed' comments

April 05, 2011, David Caraviello,

Upset after late-race speeding penalty, admits wrong-doing after getting the facts

Sunday, Jimmie Johnson climbed out of his race car and ripped NASCAR for a pit road speeding penalty he felt was unwarranted. Tuesday, he apologized after realizing the sanctioning body was correct after all.

Johnson fell from second to an eventual 11th-place finish after incurring the penalty on his final stop at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson, who like many drivers studies the timing zones in an effort to maximize pit road speed, said immediately after the race that he was busted in an area where speeding was impossible, given that he had been stopped to allow his crew to service his car.

"The comments I made in the race, and [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] made, and the comments following the race were made without all the information. And the fact of the matter was, we were wrong."


He was under the impression then that his speeding penalty had come in the timing segment immediately after his pit stall. Later, he realized he had received bad information, and that he had actually been tagged in the segment before his pit stall.

"The comments I made in the race, and [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] made, and the comments following the race were made without all the information. And the fact of the matter was, we were wrong," Johnson said Tuesday. "I was misinformed, and was referring to a segment where we could not get busted in. I thought that's where we were busted. And at the end of the day, that wasn't the thing we got in trouble on."

Johnson was busted in the third timing segment along Martinsville's pit road, where maximum speed is 30 mph and NASCAR allows a 5 mph buffer zone. But immediately after the event, under the impression that he had been busted in the fourth timing segment, Johnson was frustrated and bewildered. The ensuing penalty led to his first finish outside the top 10 at Martinsville since his maiden race there in 2002.

"I wasn't speeding," he said Sunday. "... There is just no way. People will say whatever. But with the math and the way we know our timing lines, there is just no way. You accelerate real hard through your timing zone. A lot of guys get dinged for that. I've been dinged a couple of different times. Usually you get dinged when you pass someone or break the plane of the car in front of you. With no one there, I accelerated like I always do from my mark. There is just no way. There is just no way. It won't do me any good to have a conversation, it isn't going to matter. I guess I just can't attack pit road like I know I can and like I did every single time before this."

Johnson and his team received NASCAR's pit road timing information -- which isn't made public during the race -- on Monday, and that's when the five-time defending series champion realized he had been mistaken.

"The final stop, running second, wanting to get all that I can, trying to beat [Kyle Busch] out of the pits, went too fast," he said Tuesday. "Just that simple. The picture becomes so much clearer once you have all the information in front of you. So once we had that on Monday, it was like, oh, all right, we're talking about different segments."

Johnson even issued a mea culpa on Twitter: "Note to self," he wrote. "... Be sure to know the segment [NASCAR] has penalized me in. At least I wasn't in the zone I was talking about."