Jimmie Johnson was rolling on Sunday. He'd already snagged the points for most laps led, and everybody other than Kyle Busch was an afterthought. Even Busch didn't look to be that much trouble for Johnson, provided that the 48 got, oh, a hundred yards or so of track to run Kyle down.
And then ... disaster!
On the final round of pit stops, Johnson got dinged for driving too fast down pit road. Speed limits on Dover's pit road are 35 mph, but drivers get up to 40 in wiggle room. Johnson was tagged for going 40.09 mph through one of the segments.
Let's break that down for a second. Nine-one-hundredths of a mile per hour. That's about 475 feet in an hour, or eight feet in a minute. That's maybe as fast as a baby can crawl, and a lazy baby at that.
Johnson griped a bit over his radio in the immediate aftermath. But credit him for hanging around after losing a near-certain win and talking in-depth about the penalty: "I guess I got busted in the segment just leaving, or after our pit box, the very next one," he said. "So what I can take from this is that I got a much better launch out of my pit box than I did on other pit stops and then was speeding in that given area ... I knew Kyle had me beat when I saw the jack drop for him and he was easing away from me. And I kind of gave up at that point on racing him off of pit road because I knew we needed to be single file on the apron."
So we're now seven races without a Johnson victory, which for him counts as a catastrophic slump. But is any fan of the 48 truly worried? Doubt it.