Jimmie Johnson came in for his second pit stop of the day on lap 77 and everything seemed like it a quick spot to make him some time in the race. As they dropped the jack to let him go an official pointed to the right rear to indicate that that not all the lugnuts were on the car.
As the tire changers scrambled to get back there, the official actually tried waving them off as he was mistaken. It was too late as the tire changers were back there working on it. The result was a just over 20 second pit stop that dropped Johnson from the lead to fifth place.
Johnson’s take was one of helplessness as he’s only does what he is told, and in that instant was to wait for what seemed like an eternity. “I was definitely waiting. And I could see confusion. I saw an official waving and I saw my rear changer done and at the wall, arguing with Chad (Knaus) and telling him that the lugs were on. In the end, I guess the official thought all the lugs weren’t on the right rear. And that’s where there was a conversation and an argument. Chad didn’t want me to leave the box without all the lugs on because that’s a penalty and on and on it went. So, long story short, I saw there on pit road while the clock was ticking and we proved our case that all five were on there. I took off. We certainly lost track position but I think we have a strong enough car to get back up there.”
Crew chief Chad Knaus was trying to argue that the tire had all it’s lugnuts, but the argument was being heard on deaf ears. “There was one hanging there. One had fallen off during the hand-in, so it was kind of hanging there; but the tire changer had taken the time. He did his job. He did a great job getting the other lugnut on there and making sure it was tight. The official thought there were only four on there. We all make mistakes. That happens from time to time. Hopefully we can get the Lowe’s Chevrolet back up towards the front and compete for the win.”
Before the red flag came out Johnson had driven back up through the field to the fourth position, only about four seconds behind leader Matt Kenseth. With only 109 of the 267 laps completed, race officials are hopeful to go back green a little later tonight. When racing does resume it will be on ESPN2, rather than ESPN where it started.