Johnson’s Sprint Cup mistake costly

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:26 PM ET

There is no taking away from the tremendous feat that Kyle Busch pulled off at Dover International Speedway winning both the NASCAR Nationwide Series Heluva Good! 200 on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 on Sunday.

But it was Jimmie Johnson’s lead foot with just 38 laps to go that made it happen.

Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was in top spot, battling Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyota when both came in for a final tire change and a splash of gas under green on lap 362.

But as the two had a drag race to get out of the pits, Johnson was nabbed for speeding. It may end up being the most expensive speeding ticket Johnson will ever get.

It not only cost Johnson any chance at winning — he was forced to take a drive through penalty — it dropped the four-time consecutive Sprint Cup champion to fourth in the championship standings.

This after Johnson had led and race-high 225 laps and looked to be headed back to Victory Lane after last week’s disastrous crash at Darlington.

But Busch deserves credit for the win and an extraordinary weekend where the 25-year-old raced in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series: Friday in the Camping World Truck Series, Saturday in the Nationwide and Sunday in the Cup series.

He could have easily won all three events if his No. 18 Toyota Tundra hadn’t felt short on fuel.

Pits stops

A tiger can’t change its stripes and a seven-time world champion driver can’t stop breaking the rules. Michael Schumacher looked like he had his best finish of his comeback Formula One season putting his Mercedes in seventh place on the final lap at the Grand Prix of Monaco. But the 41-year-old German tried to gain another position by passing Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Unfortunately, the safety car still was on the circuit and the race stewards penalized Schumacher 20 seconds, dropping him out of the points to 12th place ... Rain cut short the second day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday but not before three-time champion Helio Castroneves posted the fastest lap of the day at 227.046 m.p.h. for Penske Racing. Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was second fastest at 226.202 m.p.h. ... Toronto’s Paul Tracy had yet to get up to speed on Sunday, finishing 21st at 221.864 m.p.h. Montreal’s Alex Tagliani, after a stay in hospital last week for a virus infection, posted a lap of 221.482 m.p.h., good enough for 24th place on the speed chart ... The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series holds its second test of the new season Tuesday at Delaware Speedway, near London, Ont.

Finish lines

Can you believe the bone-headed move by the Red Bull team that cost Jenson Button his lead atop the F-1 championship? Button had a perilous three-point lead over Mark Webber going into Sunday’s race in Monte Carlo but it all went poof — just like the puff of smoke that signalled his engine was cooked after the team had accidentally left a blanking plate across the car’s sidepod causing the Renault engine to overheat and eventually explode ... If Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t have bad luck he’d have not luck at all. On Sunday at Dover, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet developed a steering problem that eventually ended his day and stretched his winless skid to 69 Sprint Cup races ... And Chip Ganassi will almost certainly be launching an investigation into why the two Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolets — the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 of Juan Pablo Montoya — were both forced out due to rear-end suspension problems.

Formula 1

Mark Webber moved to the top of the Formula 1 world driving champion by winning the Grand Prix of Monaco in dominating fashion on Sunday. It was Webber’s second consecutive start-to-finish F-1 victory for the Red Bull racing team.

Webber beat teammate Sebastian Vettel to the start-finish line, a result that tied the two in points, but Webber gets the edge with his two back-to-back wins.

Reigning world champion Jenson Button was forced to retire early in his McLaren after his engine blew up. That cost Button his top spot in the standings.

Robert Kubica, who started on the outside of the front row beside Webber, had to settle for third in his Renault, after he was passed by Vettel before the first turn.

That was as close as Kubica would get, however, as Webber started putting up faster laps and established a 10-second lead by the time of their pitstops on laps 22 and 23.

Nascar sprint cup

Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 Cup at Dover International Speedway in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on Sunday after Jimmie Johnson was assessed a speeding penalty as he raced Busch out of the final round of pit stops with 38 laps to go.

Jeff Burton finished second in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Matt Kenseth was third in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

Denny Hamlin, Busch’s teammate, was fourth.

Kevin Harvick finished seventh in the No. 29 RCR Chevy but maintained his points lead. Busch moved from third to second — within 69 points of Harvick — while Johnson fell two places to fourth.

Busch and Johnson swapped the lead through most of the 400-lap race. Johnson finished 16th.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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