Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Brian Vickers is the big winner....of yet another fuel mileage race. And there were losers, and then some real losers in the endgame

 Nope, that's not a smile on Jimmie Johnson's face, after running out of fuel in the final miles of Sunday's Michigan 400 -- after leading 133 of the 200 laps...only to finish 33rd (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   Jimmie Johnson came up short once again on fuel mileage here.
   Just like in June, when he ran out while battling Greg Biffle, who likewise ran out, giving the win to Mark Martin.
   This time the Michigan 400 was yet another gas mileage gamble for most men down the stretch, and Johnson ran out with two laps to go while battling Brian Vickers, who is surging toward the playoffs, with three races to go to make the cut – and perhaps at Martin's expense now.
   "We always come up short," Johnson said of endgames like this. "Inside the car I did all I could. I mean I was running half-throttle for 80 to 90 percent of that run. I don't know how else I could have saved any more.
   "Just the way it goes.
    "I have to congratulate Brian Vickers on his second win. His first win, he and I got together…and I know it was hard on him at the time.
    "So I'm very pleased for him to get another win."
   That was when Vickers was Johnson's teammate, and on the last lap at Talladega in 2006, when Johnson pulled out of the draft on the backstretch to make a charge at leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Vickers pulled out too to go with Johnson, Vickers misjudged the closing rate and triggered a wild crash that took out Johnson and Earnhardt, while Vickers escaped to victory lane.
   Johnson was really frustrated after Sunday's three-hour race, but, hey, he's locked in the chase. A number of other chase contenders got foiled too.
   Gas mileage racing: "You really have no clue if you've saved much," Johnson said. "I ran around half-throttle and thought 'Shoot, I must have saved enough….And Brian is pushing, so at least we'll run out together and be miserable together.
   "And I ran out and he made it."
   Johnson laughed.
   "I really felt if Brian could make it we could make it. Unfortunately we didn't.
    "This car makes a lot of horsepower, and I've got to thank the engine shop for that.
    "But a fuel mileage race really isn't our specialty. We took a gamble because of where we were in the points, trying to get 10 (bonus points) for the chase, and it didn't work out."
    Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, wasn't shrugging things off quite so easily: "We had the fastest car by a bunch, and I hate it for Jimmie and I hate it for all my guys.
    "We just really didn't have a choice.
    "Here's the deal: It's just like the last race here -- When you lead all the laps, when you get to the end, you don't want to just fall back and settle for a fifth or a sixth-place finish. That's not what we wanted to do.
    "Fortunately we're in a position (in the standings) to where if it would have worked out, we would have been great, a storybook ending.
   "Unfortunately it didn't work out."
    "We've won one race on fuel mileage, and that was Phoenix, and I don't know how that even happened.
    "Whenever we try to stretch it, it just never works. We've run out more times than not, trying to make it.
     "In the chase we wouldn't take a chance like this.
     "But we have luxury to do it right now."
    Carl Edwards, fourth, managed to stretch his fuel to finish, but he wasn't happy with having to run a fuel mileage race.
    "It's not out of fuel, but it's really close," Edwards said. "Bob Osborne (his crew chief) definitely had me under his wing today; he really talked me into slowing down and saving all that fuel.
    "It's not that much to race like that. You want to race for the win -- go out there and go for it. But we couldn't run out of fuel. A couple of those guys ran out, and that's excruciating. That would be terrible."


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com