This just in: Jimmie Johnson is really good at everything he does. And not just at Indianapolis, where Sunday saw him win his fourth Brickyard 400, tying him for the most race wins this season and at the Brickyard 400.
I think the last year and a half has made us forget just how great the Johnson and Chad Knaus combination really is. Last year saw the team win only twice, once at the ultra-random Talladega but 2012 is apparently the return of the king.
And I'm not talking about Richard Petty either. Although I may as well be when talking about the kind of roll that Johnson has been on since hitting his prime as a NASCAR driver in 2003.
Winning at Indianapolis is reserved for the best of the best, and last year's fuel mileage silliness aside, Johnson reminded us that only champions win here. In 19 years of the Brickyard, seven of 10 winners have gone on to win a championship, including seven in the same year. Can Johnson make it eight?
Johnson's victory is his third of 2012, tying him with Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart for the most in Sprint Cup. That's not even counting is dominant All-Star Race performance in May. The cream is starting to rise to the top and Johnson has officially staked his claim for a sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.
Johnson's recent success should have everyone in the paddock extremely worried.
A brief recap of the race and my thoughts on the spectacle of the Brickyard 400 can be found after the jump.
I've spilled a lot of vitriol this weekend about the first annual Indiana Super Weekend, and despite my discontent, I still found myself enchanted with Sunday's main event. Despite all that NASCAR and the Speedway have done over the last decade to make me fall out of love, all involved worked their magic again on Sunday, reminding me that the Brickyard is still a special event.
I just don't think there's room for numerous 'special' events at the same facility, all on the same weekend. It's like Tony Johns from PopOffValve wrote this weekend, "If every race at Indianapolis is special, none will be."
On the topic of diminished returns -- what in the world has become of the brick-kissing ceremony? When Dale Jarrett first started the tradition in 1996, it was a real grassroots notion, with the team and driver causally walking-up to the fabled line of bricks and just smooching them.
Today, much like drivers waiting on television to climb out of their cars, the brick-kissing ceremony has become a staged corporate advertisement. The brickyard was lined with obnoxious purple Crown Royal pillows, with Johnson and his team sitting impatiently, looking towards the camera waiting for the okay to 'act spontaneous.'
It's just too much for someone who grew up enamored with the spontaneity and impulse of kissing the bricks.
If the Indianapolis 500 is timeless, the Brickyard 400 has been surpassed by time.
But I'm nitpicking at this point. The Brickyard 400 was a really fascinating race. Pole-sitter Denny appeared to have the dominant car in the early stages of the race but that changed on a lap 46 when Denny Hamlin lost momentum and his track position when slid up the turn one racing groove. The combination of faster cars in the middle of the pack, differing fuel strategies, and an entertaining green-to-caution ration provided one of the better Brickyards in recent memory.
The end of the race gave us several captivating storylines, including:
-Jimmie Johnson's fourth Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory tying him with Michael Schumacher (5), Jeff Gordon, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears.
-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the Sprint Cup Series points leader for the first time since summer 2004. Matt Kenseth entered Indianapolis as the leader, but lost his lead on lap 132 when he collided with Joey Logano and Bobby Labonte, ending his day. Earnhardt Jr. finished the race in third and assumes the championship lead by 14 points.
-Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards entered Indianapolis needing victories and are still on the outside of the Chase bubble. Gordon feels like he wasted a golden opportunity to pick up his first win of the season, while Edwards' day never got started. He developed a problem with his EFI system and required two early pit stops under green to correct the problem. Edwards finished 29th while Gordon led laps and finished fifth.
Neither matters at this point. Both driver require wins to make the Chase and are running out of opportunities to get it done. Only six races remain until the Chase for the Championship begins at Chicagoland Speedway.
NASCAR Wire Report Recap
Logano gets loose, collects Kenseth (via TheOfficialNASCAR)
Final Laps: Johnson kisses Indy's bricks for a fourt... (via TheOfficialNASCAR)
Post-Race Reactions: Brickyard 400 (via TheOfficialNASCAR)
|1||6||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet||160||48||5||Running||5||99|
|2||7||18||Kyle Busch||M&M's Toyota||160||43||1||Running||2||3|
|3||5||16||Greg Biffle||3M Ford||160||42||1||Running||1||4|
|4||20||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet||160||40||Running|
|5||9||24||Jeff Gordon||Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet||160||40||1||Running||1||1|
|6||1||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express Toyota||160||39||1||Running||2||27|
|7||11||39||Ryan Newman||Quicken Loans Chevrolet||160||37||Running|
|8||17||56||Martin Truex Jr.||NAPA Auto Parts Toyota||160||36||Running|
|9||22||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite Dodge||160||36||1||Running||3||22|
|10||28||14||Tony Stewart||Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet||160||34||Running|
|11||19||55||Mark Martin||Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota||160||33||Running|
|12||15||5||Kasey Kahne||Farmers Insurance Chevrolet||160||32||Running|
|13||27||29||Kevin Harvick||Jimmy John's Chevrolet||160||31||Running|
|14||8||27||Paul Menard||Menards/Nibco Chevrolet||160||30||Running|
|15||33||15||Clint Bowyer||5-hour Energy Toyota||160||29||Running|
|16||24||22||Sam Hornish Jr.(i)||Shell Pennzoil Dodge||160||0||Running|
|17||18||21||Trevor Bayne(i)||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford||160||0||Running|
|18||14||78||Regan Smith||Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet||160||26||Running|
|19||4||43||Aric Almirola||Eckrich Ford||160||25||Running|
|20||23||9||Marcos Ambrose||DeWalt Ford||160||24||Running|
|21||12||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Target Chevrolet||160||23||Running|
|22||16||1||Jamie McMurray||Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet||160||22||Running|
|23||32||36||Dave Blaney||SealWrap Chevrolet||160||21||Running|
|24||26||30||David Stremme||Inception Motorsports Toyota||160||20||Running|
|25||38||83||Landon Cassill||Burger King Toyota||160||20||1||Running||2||2|
|26||29||47||Bobby Labonte||Scott Products Toyota||160||19||1||Running||1||1|
|27||31||38||David Gilliland||Big Machine Records Ford||160||17||Running|
|28||36||34||David Ragan||Scorpion Coatings/Al's Liners Ford||160||16||Running|
|29||2||99||Carl Edwards||Fastenal Ford||156||15||Running|
|30||42||32||Ken Schrader||Special Operations For America.org Ford||156||14||Running|
|31||37||33||Stephen Leicht #||LittleJoesAuto.com Chevrolet||154||13||Running|
|32||21||31||Jeff Burton||Rain-X Chevrolet||151||12||Running|
|33||3||20||Joey Logano||Dollar General Toyota||144||11||Running|
|34||25||13||Casey Mears||GEICO Ford||137||10||Running|
|35||10||17||Matt Kenseth||Fifth Third Bank Ford||132||10||1||Accident||1||1|
|36||13||51||Kurt Busch||Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet||126||8||Engine|
|37||30||93||Travis Kvapil||Burger King Toyota||40||7||Accident|
|38||34||95||Scott Speed||Leavine Family Racing Ford||23||6||Brakes|
|39||41||10||JJ Yeley||Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet||20||5||Transmission|
|40||35||26||Josh Wise #||Taco Bell Chevrolet||19||4||Brakes|
|41||40||23||Scott Riggs||North Texas Pipe Chevrolet||14||3||Rear Gear|
|42||39||79||Mike Skinner||Koma Unwind Ford||11||2||Rear Gear|
|43||43||19||Mike Bliss(i)||Humphrey-Smth Racing LLC Toyota||5||0||Engine|