Winners: 2011 NASCAR Champions

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Austin Dillon
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Tony Stewart

Monday, April 18, 2011

Johnson's Thrilling Win on the Up-and-Up

Shortly after Jimmie Johnson beat Clint Bowyer to the line by .002 seconds to win the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday -- tying the closest finish in NASCAR history since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993 -- some intimated that Johnson shouldn't have won because he dipped below the double yellow-line in the tri-0val.

Was it a legitimate concern, or was it merely sour grapes from those not thrilled with who won?

Watch the video below of the finish -- in which four pairs of cars came to the finish line side-by-side-by-side-by-side -- to judge for yourself.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Wild finish at Talladega">Video: Wild finish at Talladega</a>

It seems, to some degree, that the yellow line rule has caused more trouble than it's saved -- I'll get into that a little more in a post later today -- but in examining the Johnson case, there really is no question.

Yes, at one point, Johnson's left-side tires -- as well as those of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who pushed Johnson to victory -- touched the yellow line. But that was not in the act of passing; as the 48 and 88 got their run coming off Turn 4, the tandem cut low, beneath Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. Martin dropped low in an attempt to block Johnson and Earnhardt, and the 48 and 88 dipped lower to avoid contact.

In fact, a replay from Junior's in-car camera shows that even with the evasive maneuver, the 5 and the 88 still made contact. Once Martin realized he couldn't block Johnson and Earnhardt, he got back in line and tried to latch back onto Gordon's rear bumper.

He failed, though, finishing eighth.

Once Martin got back in line, Johnson and Earnhardt -- who still had not passed the 24 and 5 -- came back up above the yellow line. Then Johnson and Earnhardt made the pass.

By the letter of the law -- where you cannot go below the yellow line and improve your position -- Johnson's move was legal. This was nothing like the situation with Regan Smith in 2008, where he clearly went below the line and passed Tony Stewart for what he thought was his first career victory.

Johnson and Earnhardt dipped onto the yellow line to avoid contact, then when the contact was averted, the duo got back off the yellow line and proceeded to make the winning pass.

The video clearly speaks for itself; in reality, I wonder if those bitching about Johnson breaking a NASCAR rule and getting away with it are simply unhappy about who won the race and have to resort to accusations of cheating to sate their anger.

If that's the case, it's really pathetic. Grow up, people. Johnson was bound to win a race at some point this season. Get over it and enjoy the fact that we had one hell of a finish at a track that's known for amazing finishes.

I don't like who won anymore than the rest of you, but he won fair and square.

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