Was Jimmie Johnson finding issues with restarts that weren’t really there? Prior to last weekend’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, five-time Cup champion Johnson said that he was going to lighten up and not concern himself so much with how some of his competitors restart races. It’s a move that paid off, as he went on to win the race at Daytona, sweeping the season’s two points-paying races at the track, the first time anyone’s done so since Bobby Allison in the early 1980s.
It’s not that Johnson hadn’t already been winning this season — quite the opposite. His most recent victory at Daytona was his fourth win of the year, tying him for the most wins, so far, this season with Matt Kenseth. Also worth noting — Johnson’s been the championship points leader for much of the season to date.
But on several weekends Johnson didn’t win, he, seemingly more often than not, had an issue with one of his competitors on a restart. It seemed any time Johnson didn’t win a race, he pointed at a restart by one of his competitors that, in Johnson’s eyes, didn’t follow the rules for a proper restart. Really, Jimmie?
“I know the rule, but I feel like I may be a little too focused on the way the rule reads exactly and paying maybe too close attention to that,” Johnson recently said, according to a report by USA today. “Maybe I should lighten up and loosen up the way some restart and certainly the way I do.”
According to the NASCAR rule book, the leader has a designated zone in which to restart the race, and no other car can beat the leader to the start-finish line on starts and restarts. If the leader fails to start the race within the designated area, then the flagman restarts the race and the lead is fair game.
Johnson, himself, was penalized for jumping a restart at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in early June. Since then, he’s been critical of several restarts — restarts that, seemingly, looked fine to everyone else. Did Johnson think that if he made a mistake, everyone else must be making the same mistake?
Johnson said in Daytona that he was going to lighten up on this whole restart issue, but notice that he didn’t say that there wasn’t an issue or that others were getting away with bad restarts. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it never happens. I’m sure it does. What I’m saying here is maybe it’s just me, but it seems like this whole restart thing became Johnson’s platform after he had his hand slapped for a bad restart. After his penalty, it seemed like he was just looking to find something wrong with everyone else’s restarts.
News flash: Just because you do something wrong once, that doesn’t mean that nobody else ever gets it right.
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