During a late caution, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick opted for two tires. The leader, Juan Pablo Montoya, took four and lost the lead.
The Brickyard 400 is in the books, so it’s time for a quick follow-up on how my top five fared:
- Jimme Johnson: The 48 seemed strong at the very beginning (though not as strong as the 42), but he quickly began slipping backward. Atypically, the 48 team then seemed unable to improve the car no matter what they tried on pit road. Johnson lost time in the pits as they tinkered with the setup, and even went a lap down when they changed the shocks (to no avail—the car still sucked). He finished 22nd.
- Juan Pablo Montoya: The 42 had probably the best car of the day, all day, but during a late caution, Montoya lost his lead when the 42 took four tires and several other cars took two. He then proceeded to overdrive his car attempting to move back to the front, and he eventually crashed out of the race.
- Mark Martin: Martin had a really good car through the early and middle portions of the race, but the 5 seemed to tail off a bit in the race’s latter stages. He finished 11th.
- Jeff Burton: Burton had a good car all day but could never improve it enough to run up front. He brought it home 6th. Continue reading
Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus shoot the bull prior to the race. (Photo Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The New Hampshire race unfolded pretty much as expected, with one major exception.
Jimmie Johnson: My pre-race #1 pick took the checkered flag. He led early, but then lost track position in the pits. He slowly climbed back up throughout the race, then took the lead after a late caution. Another caution allowed Kurt Busch to bump him out of the way and take the lead, but Johnson reeled him back in and performed his own bump and run.
Jeff Gordon: My #2 pick had a good car, but not quite the top car. He brought it home fourth.
Juan Pablo Montoya: My 3# pick also seemed to have a good-but-not-great car, but the Colombian bull did too much beating and banging late, damaging his car in the process. He was eventually punted into the wall.
Kurt Busch: My #4 pick was there at the end and would’ve won if the race were just a few laps shorter. He finished third.
Kyle Busch: My #5 pick had a really good car, but Jeff Burton accidentally spun him late. He managed to finish 11th.
I didn’t foresee Tony Stewart having a great day, but he moved forward throughout and was a factor at the end. He finished second. It appears it’s time to keep an eye on Stewart on the short-flat tracks.
Off to Daytona!
Jimmie Johnson celebrates his win with one of the Infineon girls. (Photo Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Despite lots of on-track carnage and pit-road tactics, yesterday’s race on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., unfolded pretty much as expected, with one glaring exception.
Marcos Ambrose: In my race preview update, I tabbed the Aussie the favorite to win, and he was well on his way to victory when he committed a colossal error under caution with less than 10 laps remaining. He shut down his engine to preserve fuel, and when he had trouble refiring it, he slipped from first back to seventh.
Jimmie Johnson: My #2 pick was well on his way to finish second, and then Ambrose handed him the win. Continue reading