Jimmie Johnson was credited with his first win of 2011 when he went from fifth to first in the final turn at Talladega. Johnson, like much of his Hendrick teammates, spent the majority of the race in the back running off laps and staying out of trouble.
Who would think that Johnson passing Mark Martin entering the tri-oval would create so much?
For me it wasn’t that NASCAR stated that the #48 legally passed the #5 of Martin. It was how quick they were to say it was a legal pass and credit Johnson with the victory.
While none of Johnson’s competitors came out and said that they thought Johnson should have been penalized, it’s worth noting that few made it clear they believed NASCAR had made the right call as well.
One driver who believes NASCAR made the right call is Kevin Harvick.
“Dear people, the 48 [of Johnson] did not go below the line he won the damn race in Talladega fashion,” said fellow driver Kevin Harvick on Twitter.
Fans seem split on the issue as well. Johnson backers say it’s clear his car remained above the yellow line, others say it’s just as clear that Johnson dipped below the line to advance his position.
Talladega and Daytona are the only two tracks on the circuit where there is a rule regarding “staying in bounds”. The double yellow line rule as it’s been known has been enforced in the past.
Most recently during the Bud Shootout Denny Hamlin was penalized for driving below the yellow line at Daytona costing him a trip to victory lane in a non points race. Additionally a few years ago Regan Smith was stripped of a win at Talladega for passing Tony Stewart below the yellow line.
NASCAR officials said they didn’t have an issue with Johnson’s move.
“Car needs to be below and tires are not even below,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnell said in a Twitter post after the event. “This is not close.”
The only remaining question will not be addressed by NASCAR. Where are all the additional camera angles? You have to be kidding yourself if you believe there are no other views.