Official's error cost Johnson the lead Jimmie Johnson lost four spots on pit road thanks to two rare mistakes early in the Geico 400 on Sunday.
One was by his Hendrick Motorsports crew, and the other was by a NASCAR official.
Johnson pitted under green as the leader on Lap 75 at Chicagoland Speedway. Rear tire changer Calvin Teague dropped a lugnut and used a spare to complete the tire change. His recovery was so good it apparently confused the NASCAR official in Johnson’s pit stall.
The NASCAR official, who saw the lugnut drop, pointed toward the wheel, indicating that a lugnut was missing. But then he saw it was on the wheel and waved his arms, putting his thumbs up to indicate it was OK. But by that time, Teague had gone back around the car to see if the lugnut needed to be tightened.
“They are arguing if it’s on or off and pointing at it while I’m sitting on pit road and my competitors are driving on by,” Johnson said.
After the green-flag stops cycled through, Johnson was fifth on the track, more than five seconds behind leader Matt Kenseth.
“The official thought there were only four on there,” crew chief Chad Knaus said. “We all make mistakes. That happens from time to time.”
Johnson had moved up to fourth by the time the race was suspended at Lap 109 because of rain.
“I could see confusion,” Johnson said. “I saw an official waving, and I saw my rear changer done and at the wall, arguing with Chad and telling him that the lugs were on. … Long story short, I sat 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.” Sporting News