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Johnson's drive for 5 ends with bad pit stop

  • Article by: DAN GELSTON
  • AP Sports Writer
  • July 28, 2013 - 4:43 PM

INDIANAPOLIS — Jimmie Johnson had plenty of time to think about the Brickyard win that slipped away.

Try, 17.2 seconds.

His final pit stop was, well, the pits. The slow stop stalled Johnson's momentum and ended a serious bid to become the first NASCAR driver to win five times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He settled for second Sunday.

Not bad.

But not first.

He refused to pin the blame on the No. 48 Chevrolet crew.

"We win as a team, we lose as a team," Johnson said. "There have been mistakes on my behalf in situations that have taken race wins away from us. Granted, they weren't major events like this."

Johnson's crew rarely blows a big one like Indy or Daytona when the 48 is in a late position to win. This time, history was denied and a win snatched away.

Johnson, who led a race-high 73 laps, and crew chief Chad Knaus also were outschemed on the final stop under green with 27 laps left.

The No. 48 took four tires while Ryan Newman's No. 39 took two. Newman was second entering the pit stall and raced out nearly 7 seconds ahead of Johnson.

That was all Newman needed to snap a 49-race winless streak. He toyed with Johnson on the final laps — letting the five-time champion shave a few seconds off the gap before Newman would push the pedal and speed off.

"Once I got to a certain distance, he decided to go 100 percent," Johnson said. "He had plenty of speed today."

Johnson needed a 12- or 13-second pit stop to keep close with Newman. Because Johnson typically has a dominant car, it's natural for other teams to listen in to Knaus' strategy over the radio, then try and adjust.

"It was an easy call for them to do the opposite," Johnson said. "The two (tires) gave them the track position they needed and, with our mistake, they had a nice cushion."

Newman set a NASCAR track record in knocking Johnson off the pole in qualifying. He got him again Sunday and won by 2.657 seconds.

Johnson and Knaus are the longest active crew chief and driver pairing in NASCAR and have shown no signs of letting up. Johnson still has four victories and holds a 75-point lead over Clint Bowyer for first in the standings.

With a fifth win at the Brickyard, Johnson would have made history.

Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon have each won four times at Indianapolis. A.J Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s. Johnson tried to join Michael Schumacher as a five-time winner at the track. Schumacher won his five F1 races on Indy's road course configuration.

Johnson won in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012 at the Brickyard. He'll have to wait another year in his drive for five.

The wait will only seem as long as his pit stop.

"Being four time isn't all that bad," Johnson said. "I can leave with a smile on my face. We'll try and come back next year, do it again."

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