The Norman Transcript

National Sports

November 6, 2012

Final finish saved sluggish race for Johnson

(Continued)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

He led the first 48 laps, stopped for gas and tires, then led 51 more laps before NASCAR called its first caution of the race, for debris. In fact, of the nine cautions on Sunday, five of them were for debris.

And one of them may have set the tone for the finish that had everyone talking on Monday.

Keselowski was leading with Johnson in third when NASCAR called caution for debris 58 laps from the scheduled finish and teams in various stages of fuel-mileage strategy. Keselowski went on to pit road as the leader, but locked up his brakes and slid deep into his stall, a miscue that dropped him to eighth when he got back onto the track.

Cautions breed cautions, and there were three more ahead. It set the sequence for Keselowski to take two tires during the final pit stops when everyone else took four tires so he could reclaim the lead, then try to hold off the field over those three final restarts.

After successfully getting past Busch on the first restart, Johnson cried foul and argued Keselowski had gone too early.

“Come on, NASCAR,” Johnson complained over his radio. “Look at the tape.”

Ironically, it was Johnson who many believe went early on the third and final restart, the one that got him past Keselowski for the victory. But NASCAR made no call in either case, reiterating Monday neither case warranted a penalty.

Keselowski was ticked about something after the race, when he radioed to his Penske Racing crew: “Good job everybody. Can’t do anything about it when somebody is handed the race time after time.”

Hard to tell if he meant the debris caution that changed his strategy or the restart that Johnson won, because he was softer in his post-race interviews.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to execute every restart and Jimmie did a great job on the last one,” he said. “I had to choose between wrecking him and winning the race and it didn’t seem right to wreck him.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Bradford facing another year of scrutiny in newest season

    ST. LOUIS — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford. Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Judge rules against owner Donald Sterling, but lengthy saga far from over

    LOS ANGELES — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer....

    July 29, 2014

  • T-Wolves land guard Mo Williams

    MINNEAPOLIS — Mo Williams is on his way to Minnesota, which means J.J. Barea could be on his way out....

    July 29, 2014

  • LSU freshmen face misdemeanors

    BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU freshmen football players face charges, one for allegedly stealing a bicycle outside Middleton Library and the other for allegedly tossing firecrackers into a campus apartment....

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald says players’ push for union brought Northwestern together

    CHICAGO — No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats. For that, he credits the push for them to unionize....

    July 29, 2014

  • Delany rides fence with PSU

    CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal....

    July 29, 2014

  • Murray St. aims to be OVC contenders

    Fifth-year Murray State coach Chris Hatcher has returned the program to OVC relevance thanks to his exciting “Hatch Attack” offense. The Racers will need more results if they hope to be serious contenders....

    July 29, 2014

  • Healthy Claiborne ready to show his worth to Cowboys

    OXNARD, Calif. — Morris Claiborne got on Terrance Williams’ nerves the minute the competition started at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys....

    July 29, 2014

  • Lions postpone Suh talks

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season....

    July 29, 2014

  • Peppers adjusts to 3-4 defense

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Standing a sturdy 6-foot-7, Packers pass rusher Julius Peppers poses an imposing sight to opposing linemen even without pads. Good thing Green Bay’s front five only has to go up against Peppers in practice now....

    July 29, 2014