Is Juan Pablo Montoya the NASCAR version of an NBA flopper? Or can Jimmie Johnson not admit when he made a mistake?
The difference of opinion stems from last weekend's race at Dover when Johnson was lined up alongside race-leader Montoya and was penalized for jumping the restart with 19 laps to go. It was an infraction that cost Johnson a likely win, as he finished 17th after serving his drive-thru penalty.
Friday at Pocono Raceway the five-time Sprint Cup champion remained adamant that he did nothing wrong and Montoya baited him into getting black-flagged by NASCAR.
"I feel that in NASCAR and auto racing there are very few moments where maybe a penalty could be drawn or a foul could be drawn like we would see in the NBA Finals or something right now there is flopping that goes on," Johnson said.
"I really believe that in the restart zone to the start-finish line that Juan just didn't go and in my opinion, I think he played it right. I think he was smart in letting me get out ahead of him and let them make the call on me to keep me from having the lead and winning the race."
Johnson's teammate, Jeff Gordon, agrees that Montoya looked like an NBA player during the restart.
"I've been watching the NBA Finals and watching the flops," Gordan said. "That was as good a flop as it gets."
Montoya, who finished second, asserts Johnson simply misjudged the restart and has no one to blame but himself.
"You are not supposed to beat the leader to the line," Montoya said. "What is so hard about that? You know what I mean?
"If you pay attention we were coming to the cones he didn't even want to lineup next to me. He was actually dropping back. He wanted to time it. He just mistimed it."
And when informed about Johnson praising his gamesmanship, all Montoya could was laugh and reply sarcastically: "Did I? Wow, I'm that good. Man, that is a compliment. "He should tell me what I did because I haven't figured it out myself"
The controversy could have been prevented, Montoya says, if Johnson would have simply given the spot back, which would have helped him avoid being penalized by NASCAR. He even acknowledges that, because Johnson had such a fast car, he would have likely passed him with ease and gone on to claim the win.
Johnson contends he tried to give the position back but Montoya refused to pass him and NASCAR was forced to display the black flag.
"The way I understand it is you have the frontstretch to give it back and once I was in Turn 1, he pulled in behind me and I knew my bed was made," Johnson said. "I was hoping that (NASCAR) were going to say he had an issue and notice that he wasn't up to speed the whole front straightaway and the call would come my way and it didn't.
"My mistake was expecting the call to come my way and I can't count on that."