Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway tied two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series records – number of lead changes and closest margin of victory.
There were 88 lead changes at the start/finish line, tying an all-time NASCAR record set in last season’s April event at Talladega. The final lead change occurred on the last lap – eight of the last 12 Talladega races featured a last-lap lead change.
Thanks to some awesome pushing from behind from teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson edged out Clint Bowyer by .002 seconds, which matches the closest finishes of victory since the inception of electronic scoring in May 1993. It also tied Ricky Craven’s victory over Kurt Busch at Darlington in 2003. Johnson felt the push from Earnhardt was so important that he tried to give Earnhardt the checkered flag after the race. To Bowyer, losing by such a small margin was compounded by being edged by a driver who had spent considerable time near the back of the field. “The only thing that bums me out about that is those guys lagged back all day long. That’s what makes it tough, losing to somebody that did that. We were up front for our sponsors and our team, digging all day long. When you get it taken from you at the end by somebody who lagged back all day, it’s hard to take.”
Usually, RCR has been known for the best restrictor plate racing – even that has changed…Hendrick Motor Sports has moved on up.
But towards the end of the race, there seemed to be some confusion as to when the checkered flag had dropped… even Jimmie Johnson wasn’t aware that it had dropped. I was listen to the race via MRN, and they were calling it from 4th place back, and then abruptly stopped and said “wait, the race is over…. we think Jimmie Johnson won.” What was the deal with that?
In Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, there were 56 lead changes, an all-time record since the series’ inception in 1982.