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Notebook: Johnson can find positives after fourth

March 05, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- NASCAR adds caution car to trail jet dryers in response to Montoya crash

Though he finished fourth in a car he felt was capable of winning Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson would have to characterize the second race of 2012 as a positive.

For one thing, Johnson can point to his two-race total of 18 points. Positive 18 points. After a 42nd-place finish in Monday night's Daytona 500 and a 25-point penalty for unapproved "C" Posts on his No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson came to Phoenix with a minus-23 point total.

Now he's in the black. Johnson led 55 laps at the 1-mile track, but an unplanned pit stop under caution on Lap 134 because of a loose lug nut cost him track position. Johnson restarted 24th on Lap 141 and worked his way to fourth by the end of the race, but he had mixed feelings about the result.

"We'll take it," Johnson said after the race. "I'm not really satisfied. I really felt like we had a car to win the race with. Unfortunately things didn't work out there. We had a little hiccup early in the race, but we still rebounded back and got a very strong finish.

"So I'm proud of the fight this team has and the race car we brought to the track, and I passed a lot of race cars on a track that's tough to pass and still got back to fourth."

On the side of caution

In the aftermath of Juan Montoya's collision with a jet dryer during last Monday night's Daytona 500, NASCAR told drivers Sunday at Phoenix that, from now on, an extra caution car with lights flashing will trail jet dryers to remind drivers to slow down when approaching track service vehicles.

Under caution, Montoya spun entering Turn 3 at Daytona when a truck arm (rear suspension part) broke on his No. 42 Chevrolet. The dryer, which holds approximately 200 gallons of jet fuel, exploded and ignited Montoya's car. Both drivers escaped without harm.

Watch highlights of the Subway Fresh Fit 500: