An apology from Johnson

'Wrong' to criticize NASCAR, but he still has a beef

April 06, 2011|By George Diaz, Tribune Newspapers

Jimmie Johnson is apologizing, but he's not exactly sorry. There's a big difference.

Johnson admits he was out of line for criticizing NASCAR after he was penalized for a speeding penalty at Martinsville on Sunday. Two days later, Johnson admitted "we were wrong" but didn't let NASCAR off the hook completely.

He probably isn't the only person in the world who thinks a simple solution to pit road controversy would be for NASCAR to make pit road speeds immediately available for drivers, crew chiefs and fans to see.

Johnson got busted for a segment different than the one he thought he was busted for during the race.

"If pit road segment times were broadcast live for everyone to review, it would eliminate the finger-pointing," Johnson said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "It's probably not good for me to climb out of the car and call NASCAR's credibility into judgment, and I apologize for that. When you're only dealing with part of the information and heat of the moment, it's easy to react.

"They have the information sent to a computer to review in race control. It'd be very easy to broadcast that signal like timing and scoring for teams to see. There's no argument in live time. In a world of black and white, we're all looking for that transparency. If I were them, I would believe it'd be a smart move to eliminate this."

NASCAR has no plans to change the current system because it would allow competing race teams to gather information on what other teams are doing.

800 and counting: A well-deserved shout-out to Mark Martin, who became one of only eight drivers in the history of NASCAR to start 800 Cup races when he took the green flag at Martinsville. Typical of Martin's no-nonsense, crusty approach, he wasn't too impressed with himself.

"I hate to say this isn't a big deal, because it is. But, to me, the bigger deal is what you accomplished in those starts," Martin said before the race.

The other drivers in the 800 club are Richard Petty (1,185), Ricky Rudd (906), Dave Marcis (883), Terry Labonte (870), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (825), and Darrell Waltrip (809).

Crunching numbers: Kevin Harvick fans must be wondering: Why isn't he at the top of the points standings? Harvick is fifth despite two victories and four top-10s. Kyle Busch is first with one victory and five top-10s. Both didn't finish a race. NASCAR could be looking at more tweaks in the points system if Harvick continues to roll and the computer still spits out a number other than 1.

George Diaz

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