April 17, 2012
NASCAR: Johnson can't close the deal
By Dean McNulty, QMI AGENCY
The frustration that Jimmie Johnson is feeling this season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series boiled over late Saturday after the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team finished second behind the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford of Greg Biffle.
It was the second race in a row that Johnson was in sight of Victory Lane when he had the prize snatched away.
Last week it was a three car-pile up with teammate Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet) and the No. 15 Toyota of Clint Bowyer that prevented a win.
On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway it was getting caught in lapped traffic that allowed Biffle to pass and halted Johnson’s attempt to take win No. 200 for the Hendrick organization.
“Second sucks,” Johnson said in the immediate aftermath of the race. “I wish we could have won. We were in contention; had a great race car.
“At the end ... the 16 and I were pretty equal, run pretty similar lap times, and right before the last pit stop I got caught in some traffic, he got to me and came out of the pits and was pacing him and had a second and a half lead and then we caught traffic, some guys were multiple laps down that didn’t show much respect to myself, the leader, and before I knew it (Biffle) was there on the side of me and got by.”
Johnson’s woes come in a season where he hoped to make up for ending his history making five consecutive NASCAR crowns last year.
In fact coming into the 2012 season Johnson was confident that the No. 48 team would be a force right out of the gate.
“We’ve been really close over the last five or six months,” he said, “You look through last year even through different points, (we were) leading a lot of races and didn’t execute at the end for whatever reason.
“It’s nice to be running well. It’s nice to be in this position. But I want to get back to our winning ways really soon.”
For a guy who has averaged more than six wins a season over that past six seasons it is a bitter pill to swallow to come so close and not collect the silverware at the end of a race.
“I just want to win,” Johnson said. “I don’t care where it is, whatever reason. There’s 36 of these things a year, and I want to take home a bunch of trophies. Second is nice, but winning is everything.”
HE SAID, HE SAID
As the old saying goes, there are two sides to every story and that appears to be he case with the dust up between young IndyCar Series stars Marco Andretti in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet and Graham Rahal in the No. 38 Ganassi Racing Honda after the pair wrecked at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
On Lap 22 Andretti was about to make a pretty daring pass on Rahal when the No. 38 moved just enough to the right that Andretti caught Rahal’s rear wheel sending him flying through the air and into the tire barrier.
Rahal’s version of the incident was that Andretti was being too aggressive trying to make a risky pass.
“He wasn’t going to make the corner no matter what,” Rahal claimed.
Andretti, however, begged to differ, claiming Rahal chop blocked him.
“There’s one thing blocking, but there’s another thing chopping, Andretti said. “That was a chop.”
IndyCar officials had the last word on Tuesday blaming Rahal and placing him on probation for the next six races.
The Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremony Saturday at the Inn on the Park Hotel. The seven Canadians named to the hall this year are: Dick Foley of Montreal, Rudy Bartling of Courtice, Ont., Robin Edwardes, of L’Orignal, Ont., Paul Manson of Toronto, Ben Docktor of Calgary, Norm Ellefson and Greg Sewart of Halifax. Seven-time Toronto Indy winner Michael Andretti will be inducted as well in the International category. Special guest speaker will be IndyCar rookie of the year James Hinchcliffe. Tickets are still available at www.cmhf.ca or by calling 905-852-6764.