Did Jimmie Johnson let Dale Jr win at Talladega? Jimmie realized some Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans actually believed Johnson “let” Dale Jr. car win Sunday’s race at Talladega. Is that true? Jimmie Johnson, speaking after a news conference said Dale’s fans shouldn’t discount the effort Dale Earnhardt Jr and his teammates made to pull off that victory. But did he answer the question? Read down bleow the artcile from NASCAR.com for more on this story…
“Since I let Junior win last week,” the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion joked Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of this year’s non-points race.
Former All-Star race winners Michael Waltrip and Rusty Wallace, crew chief Chad Knaus,Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith and Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, joined Johnson at CMS for the press event. Each spent time on stage surrounded by $1 million, the winner’s take for this year’s race.
Johnson has heard the comments this week and seen the chatter on social media. He didn’t pull out and try to pass Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the end of Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, some have said, because his teammate pushed him to a win years ago. It was a favor returned. Or was it?
Johnson has two victories and a spot in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup in his pocket. Until Sunday, Earnhardt had been winless through this year’s first nine races.
Make no mistake, Johnson said. Those facts had nothing to do with Sunday’s outcome.
“Absolutely not. That’s the most ridiculous thing ever,” he said.
“If I didn’t win, absolutely I’’d want it to be the 88 or the 24 (of teammate Jeff Gordon) or the 5 (of teammate Kasey Kahne).”
The four are teammates at Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson’s cars are prepped in the same shop as Earnhardt’s. Kahne and Gordon’s cars reside in another building. The teams share information and resources. But when a win is on the line?
“On that side I’m stoked for him and stoked for the shop,” Johnson said. “But man I was doing everything within my power to set up a pass for the win. I didn’t know that he had debris on the grille … that’s only going to speed his car up. Then we had such a small group of guys in line there just wasn’t any energy. I drug the brake a few times and backed up to the cars behind me; I just got this small run off of their push. Junior was easily able to defend that.”
There was no three- or four-wide, last lap battle for the lead after the leaders took the white flag in Sunday’s race. Instead, for much of the final lap, most stayed in line, waiting until the finish line and checkered flag was in sight before attempting to make a pass.