Most people would have preferred to see friendly Australian Marcos Ambrose in the Sonoma Winners Circle on Sunday instead of Jimmie Johnson.
And despite what some cynical fans believe, NASCAR would have preferred it, too.
An Ambrose victory would have been fantastic for the sport: A fresh face for the public relations department to sell this week, and a surge of international attention from Australia – where Ambrose is one of the most famous athletes in the country.
So for those who say, "NASCAR handed Johnson and Rick Hendrick another victory" with its not-so-controversial ruling, that's just flat-out silly.
You know who handed Johnson and Hendrick the win? Marcos Ambrose.
Let's just be honest: No matter how cheery and affable Ambrose may appear, he made one of the all-time bonehead moves in Sunday's race.
It stinks that it happened and it was certainly heartbreaking for his fans (more than a dozen came from Australia just for the race). But the only person to blame here is Ambrose.
Those who try to point the finger at NASCAR or say it was a bad call have no case. This was one of the most obvious decisions NASCAR has been faced with in the last few years.
The rule is that drivers must maintain a reasonable speed under the caution flag. Ambrose made a tremendous mistake trying to coast uphill with his engine off, and he ultimately stopped on the track.
No matter what your definition of "reasonable" is, coming to a complete halt doesn't fit. So NASCAR enforced the rule.
And some people are crying foul over that?
There are some who point to the infamous 2007 race at Kansas as an example of NASCAR precedent and say officials should have made a similar ruling with Ambrose. In that instance, Greg Biffle dramatically slowed down as he was coming to the checkered flag and was passed by a couple other cars – but NASCAR said he still won.
At the time, NASCAR said its judgment was that Biffle did maintain a reasonable speed (I still don't think he did, but my opinion doesn't really count). So he kept the win.
Those wishing for NASCAR to apply the Biffle ruling to Ambrose are asking officials to make another wrong and turn it into a right. Ambrose's situation, though, is even more obvious than Biffle's.
Just what went through Ambrose's head inside that car? Ultimately, his lack of experience in a pressure situation probably hurt him. Just laps earlier, he had sounded frantic in yelling at his crew to shut up, saying he needed to concentrate.
Well, the crew listened. So crew chief Frank Kerr didn't come on the radio to remind Ambrose he had plenty of fuel remaining and there was no need to try and save any.
For some reason, Ambrose out-thought himself and decided there was a threat of an empty tank. He cut off his engine to conserve some gas and began to coast up a hill. That was a bad idea, since he couldn't get the engine to refire and came to a halt.
It was stunning to watch Ambrose's No. 47 car stop on the track, and it left a sour taste in the mouths of those who couldn't stand to see another Johnson victory. But it had nothing to do with NASCAR somehow playing favorites.
The rule is the rule. So as disappointing as the race may have been, NASCAR can't just give back a spot to a driver who completely stops.
Sadly for Ambrose – who deserves a better fate – it will undoubtedly go down as one of the memorable blunders in NASCAR history.
Let's just hope it doesn't define Ambrose's career and that he gets a bit of redemption with a win someday.