Juan Pablo Montoya was the leader with 19 laps to go at last weekends FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, but during a restart, Jimmie Johnson passed him — before he was suppose to. Johnson was cited for jumping the restart– and black flagged. Johnson went from having a chance at winning the race — to finishing 17th after the penalty. Montoya ended up finishing the race in the second position.
Friday, while meeting with the press, Johnson and Montoya both addressed the situation that arose that Dover.
“Sure, I’m mad I didn’t win the race, not necessarily mad at him.” said Johnson, talking of Montoya.
“I don’t have anything against Juan for doing it– Essentially Juan found a loophole in the officiating, and worked it to his advantage.”
Montoya replied, “Oh, I’m that good? That is a compliment.”
“I think we need to look at how we officiate and how we can regulate that and keep that from happening.”Johnson continued.
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Johnson said at Dover the restart zone is a very small area compared to some of the larger tracks, including where they are racing this weekend, Pocono Raceway. He said that you could pin three or four cars into the same position if they took the bait like he did at Dover.
Montoya went on to say that if Jimmie would of beat him by a bumper or a car length, that NASCAR would of not said anything — but then he illustrated that it was “Jimmie —- and the field.”
“You’ve got to restart between the two (lanes], and I did, and you’re not supposed to beat the leader to the line, what’s so hard about that?” Montoya said.
“He didn’t even pay attention coming to the cones, he [Johnson] didn’t even want to line up next to me, he was dropping back — he wanted to time it.” Montoya continued.
Montoya said Johnson just mistimed it.
“He said if he wouldn’t have done that, the 42 would have beat him. Well, I’m the leader, not you. I was thinking, ‘I know you dominated the race but we came to a pit stop and we did a better job than you guys.”
There was no contest — if NASCAR would of not said anything regarding the restart, they would of heard it all week. Johnson’s lead was so large over the leader, that even his teammate, Jeff Gordon had something to say about it, comparing what happened to “flopping” in the NBA.
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“Jimmie was right there on the edge of anticipation in getting all that he could on the restart,” Gordon said. “Juan did a great job, I’ve been watching the NBA Finals lately and watching the flops and that was as good a flop as it gets.”
“The leader has the ability in that position to do that.” Gordon agreed.
Johnson still states that he tried to give the lead back the entire front stretch, “I’m half throttle past the start/finish line trying to give it back, but he didn’t take it.”
Johnson said he talked to NASCAR after Dover, and plans to talk to them throughout the weekend, so that the restart rules are, “crystal clear.”
Montoya concluded, “It’s all good — its racing.”