A controversial call by NASCAR cost Jimmie Johnson a potential win Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
With 19 laps remaining in the FedEx 400 following the day's final caution period, Johnson was second and lined up to the inside of leader Juan Pablo Montoya as two approached the start/finish line for the restart.
But as the green flag waved it appeared Montoya slowed giving the advantage to Johnson, who promptly drove away from the field seemingly on his way to his third victory of the year.
NASCAR, however, did not agree and after reviewing the sequence determined Johnson had jumped the restart and black-flagged him forcing to serve a pass-through penalty down pit road.
Johnson finished a lap down in 17th. He "totally disagreed" with the penalty, saying Montoya was slow heading to the restart zone to the point he thought something had happened to the No. 42 car.
"I was half-throttle for the whole front-stretch," Johnson said. "And at some point, I gotta go. And in this situation, NASCAR has the judgment to decide if you jumped it or not. But I'm like, he is not even going. So I'm not sure if his car broke or it was off power or spun the tires. I don't know.
"Chad (Knaus, crew chief) even told me on the radio that something that had happened and that I should just take off and not worry about it."
NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton told USA Today's Jeff Gluck that the decision to penalize Johnson was a "no-brainer" and because Montoya was up to speed Johnson should have given the spot back.
"(Johnson) left early and he didn't give it back like we tell them all the time when this type of thing comes up," Pemberton told USA Today's Jeff Gluck. "It's pretty cut and dry. ... That was an easy call. Very easy call."
Montoya reiterated that there was nothing amiss with his car. He said Johnson was simply trying to get the jump on him and in doing so mistimed the restart.
"I knew he was trying to jump the start," Montoya said. "And I backed off a little bit for us to line up, and he didn't want to do it. "... He wanted to get the jump on me and he just jump it too much. I would have tried to have done the same. It's one of those deals that when you time it too good, it actually hurts you."
Johnson plans on speaking with NASCAR about proper restart procedures and while disappointed equated the ruling to other sports where an official's decision can affect the outcome.
But he wasn't going to protest too vehemently because "I would just be wasting air talking about it" and in the end it was a judgment call that "didn't go my way."
The penalty erased what would have been Johnson's eighth Dover victory and would have broken a tie with Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most wins at the one-mile track. All of which made the loss a little more painful.
"You never want to lose especially when you have a chance to win," Johnson said. "We could have made history today so that stings a little bit more."