An Inside Look At Jimmie Johnson's Speeding Penalty At Dover

Jimmie Johnson was frustrated after a certain top-two finish – and possibly a victory at Dover – turned into 16th place after he was caught speeding on a late green-flag pit stop.

How mad was the four-time champ? He wasn't pleased, but he also wasn't mad enough to start throwing things or kick his dogs.

"Man, my dogs are too small to kick," he said with a chuckle. But he added he was "certainly not happy with the issue on pit road."

"We'll have to dig in deeper and find out how we could accelerated faster in that given area than we're supposed to," he said.

Here's what happened on the speeding penalty, according to Johnson:

 

  • Before the race, Johnson had studied each of the eight segments on pit road and had a thorough understanding of where the timing lines were.
  • He left his pit box, which was seven stalls behind Kyle Busch's box, and immediately accelerated to try and close up on the Busch, who was still being pitted.
  • As he approached the No. 18's stall from behind, he saw the jack drop on Busch's car, meaning the pit stop was complete and Busch would beat Johnson off pit road. So Johnson backed off and took the spot immediately following the 18 car instead of trying to race him.
  • But by that time, Johnson had already sped. NASCAR nailed him for speeding in the sixth of eight pit road segments, meaning Johnson's acceleration was what got him caught – not trying to race with Busch.
  • Though the speed limit on pit road is 35 mph, teams are given a tolerance of 5 mph. Johnson was clocked at 40.09 mph, meaning he was less than a tenth of a mile per hour over the tolerance.

"It's just a shame when you think of 400 miles and however many hours of racing that one small thing – nine-hundreths of a (mile per hour) – was too fast and cost us an opportunity to win the race," Johnson said.

 

Was Johnson surprised that he made a mistake, since his No. 48 team has won four championships while building a reputation for being flawless during races?

"It surprises me I haven't done it more often," he said. "I mean, everybody gives me so much credit and gives this team so much credit that we're so calculated. In sports, especially our races, there are so many moving pieces that I'm surprised more stuff doesn't go wrong than what we've experienced."

Some have said Johnson's recent run of bad luck means the "golden horseshoe" Kevin Harvick once referred to is now gone. But Johnson said there wasn't ever a horseshoe – and if there was, it's not there anymore.

"When you're running well and luck is with you, I think maybe people don't want to face the obvious," he said. "(They) say, ‘Well, they're just lucky.'

"All along, I've said, ‘Hey, this stuff doesn't last forever.' We're not immune to it. It happens to everyone."

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