Brian Vickers outlasted the field on fuel mileage at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, earning his 2nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win.
The win was also the first for Toyota in the backyard of the Big 3, as well as Team Red Bull’s first triumph in a points event.
Vickers had one of the fastest cars of the day to begin with. Starting from the pole, Vickers ran much of the race behind Hendrick teammates Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson, both of whom ran out of fuel at the end of the race, finishing outside the top 30.
But while Vickers won the race fair and square, there was, once again, plenty of ammunition for conspiracy theorists.
NASCAR rarely ever makes rules perfectly clear. However, one that has been clear from the get-go has been the double-file restart rule that states, “The leader must be the first car to the line on a restart.”
Today, Jimmie Johnson put that rule to the test. Twice. The result: It’s perfectly legal for the second place driver to beat the leader to the line. At least, in Johnson’s case, anyway.
Johnson restarted next to Tony Stewart on one of the restarts. Stewart, who took two tires, was the leader, while Johnson was second. As they got to the line, the interval was extremely close, with Johnson just about a foot ahead. Still, at NASCAR’s discretion, Johnson went without penalty.
On another restart, Brian Vickers was the leader, with Johnson restarting second. As the green flag waved, Johnson jumped the start, and beat Vickers to the line by a one-half of a car length. Again, no penalty.
But while Johnson went without penalty for two obvious violations, Sam Hornish Jr. received a penalty for a petty one. Hornish, the Lucky Dog car, pitted for fuel, and then topped off, which is, evidently, illegal. Hornish was penalized an entire lap for an unheard of violation. Though he would rally to finish 5th.
And in one final bizarre call, Carl Edwards attempted to fake out the field during pit stops under caution. Edwards, running fourth, ducked down towards pit road, and then shot back up the track. Meanwhile, his teammate Matt Kenseth had evidently hit the gas to close the gap between himself and the third place car. Edwards wound up losing a position on the exchange, and never even brought his car down pit road. He was ruled to have “Not maintained minimum speed under caution.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I have never heard of a guy losing a position because he pulled a fake like that before.
So, perhaps it is just ironic that, in a race won by Team Red Bull, there was a lot of bull to be found. Or, then again, maybe not.
Either way, there was enough of it at the Michigan International Speedway for the fans to take home as a souvenir.