Let's be honest, the 10th-place finisher in a rain-shortened race is never the most fortunate person on the track. But on Sunday, he certainly was, and that driver was Jimmie Johnson.
During the caution flag for rain that preceded the race's postponement on lap 129, an oil line broke in Johnson's engine while he was on the frontstretch, and the No. 48 started spewing oil and smoke on the track.
Johnson's car was still running, however. In fact he didn't know anything was wrong until he was notified by the gestures from the drivers around him. As Johnson continued to circle the track, the oil continued to leak and the smoke continued to spew. And when he pulled onto pit road under the ensuing red flag with the rest of the field, the oil from his engine started to form a puddle underneath the car.
But since his engine kept running, Johnson was able to keep pace with the field under caution. That meant that Johnson was able to keep his 10th place spot.
It was a fortunate break for the team that had been in the spotlight in the week leading up to Sunday's race when NASCAR chief appellate officer John Middlebrook rescinded the 25-point penalty (and six-race suspensions for crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec) handed to Johnson and his team for an issue that was found with the C-posts on the No. 48's car at Daytona.
On Sunday, before the caution flag flew, Johnson had worked his way into the top five and his finish could have actually been higher had Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus not chosen to pit along with Denny Hamlin on lap 125, hoping that the rain shower would be brief. It wasn't. But given the leak in the oil line, had the race been able to continue under green, Johnson would have likely finished much lower than 10th.
- Jimmie Johnson