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article imageNASCAR: Johnson penalized, Montoya can’t hold off Stewart for win

By John Duarte     Jun 3, 2013 in Sports
Dover - Tony Stewart capitalized on a late penalty to Jimmie Johnson and passed Juan Pablo Montoya three laps from the end of the race to win the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks Sunday on the “Monster Mile.”
It was Stewart’s first win of the season and his first at Dover International Raceway, dubbed The Monster Mile, since 2000.
“This is a great win for us and a great momentum builder.” Stewart said it was good to finally win a race after a dismal start to the 2013 season. “It’s been very hard. I’ve struggled with it. When you’ve had the start to season we’ve had, you start questioning, you start doubting, you start looking for answers that you don’t have the knowledge to diagnose. That makes you feel helpless at times.”
As he broke down the race, Stewart looked at what transpired on the track at the final restart. He refused to take sides on the situation, simply saying that NASCAR rules state that the leader of the race has to cross the start/finish line first on a restart.
“I feel bad for Jimmie because Jimmie (Johnson) ran good all day,” he said. “He didn’t deserve to be in a situation at the end. But, at the same time, he knows what the rules are.”
Johnson was penalized after jumping the green flag on the restart after a late caution flag and had to drive through pit lane. Johnson fumed as he felt he had beaten Montoya to the start/finish line on the restart. NASCAR officials disagreed.
“That was an easy call. A very easy call,” said NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton. “He beat the 42 (Montoya’s car) even out of the box, from what we could see on the film.”
Johnson had his own version of what transpired.
“I ran half throttle for the first half a lap, waiting for him (Montoya) and then, at some point, you’ve got to go and you’ve got to race.” Johnson said he backed off the throttle, not knowing if there was something wrong with Montoya’s car, and tried to allow Montoya to pass. “I was hoping they would see I was trying to give him back the spot.”
When NASCAR officials black-flagged Johnson on Lap 382, it all played into Stewart’s hands. Montoya held off Stewart for 16 laps, but could do nothing to prevent Stewart from passing him as the tires wore out.
“I just couldn’t hold Tony off,” said Montoya, who is still seeking his first oval-track win since joining the series in 2006. “We decided to make a couple of big changes to the car and it came to life at the right time. It’s a shame there at the end that it was too loose.”
Jeff Gordon finished third in the FedEx 400 behind Stewart and Montoya.
Despite the late race disappointment, Johnson holds on to his Sprint Cup Series lead. He leads Carl Edwards by 30 points and Clint Bowyer by 50.
The next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is Pocono Raceway for the Party in the Poconos 400 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, on June 9.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, tony stewart, Juan pablo montoya, jeff gordon
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