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Busted: Jimmie Johnson's speeding penalty costs him the Dover 400, opening the door for Kyle Busch

 There's more to a fast pit stop than just a fast pit crew....and Jimmie Johnson says that 'launch' out of the box late in Sunday's race was just soooo good that he got busted for speeding (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Jimmie Johnson took it like a man.
   Busted for speeding on pit road. Which cost him victory in Sunday's Dover 400, a race he'd dominated right up till the end.
   Maybe winner Kyle Busch was right, that his crew – honed by new crew chief Dave Rogers – simply beat Johnson's crew in that key head-to-head showdown...and Johnson, seeing that, pushed the speed limit just a little too far, trying to catch Busch.
   Another speeding penalty? Well, those aren't unusual on NASCAR pit roads, and officials use asphalt-embedded wire links to get computerized data on how fast these guys run through the series of speed traps on the Sprint Cup tour's pit roads.
   But this time – just like last summer at Indianapolis – a speeding penalty proved costly to the man who had the dominant car of the afternoon...in this case Johnson.
   Johnson, according to figures provided by NASCAR, was slightly over the speed limit during segment six of the eight-segment speed traps on Dover's pit road. The official speed limit, which varies from track to track, was 35 mph here; however NASCAR gives drivers a five mph tolerance, which makes the effective speed limit 40 mph. And drivers have a series of lights on their dash that shows them how close they are to the RPM limit for that particular speed.
   NASCAR says Johnson – who came on to pit road as the leader of the race with less than 40 miles to go – was clocked at 40.09 mph in segment six.
   Of course each segment is a set length of pit road, here maybe 50 yards long. And drivers, trying to 'beat' the system, or at least get as much out of it as they can, speed up and slow down through the various segments. And the speed limit NASCAR measures is from point A to point B, not some instantaneous radar-gun measurement.
   In fact, teams try to pick their pits to maximize the segment tricks.
   "I guess I got busted in the segment just leaving our pit box, or the very next one," Johnson 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 pit road, because I knew we needed to be single-file on the apron.
     "I just had too much forward-bite leaving the pit box and got going too fast and got busted.
    "I had been leaving the pit box really good each time...and there are some cues from the spotter (on where to speed up and slow down)... and we need to be able to calculate where we need to check up to be doing the right thing."
   On the positive side Johnson said "usually what works here ends up working at Charlotte, for the most part," optimistic about the next two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
    And that may be a turnaround from some of his recent problems. "When I look back at the last few races," Johnson said, "I know the results aren't what we want... but we were competitive at some of the tracks, and we had bad luck at some."
   Could Johnson have beaten Busch, if not caught for speeding? "I want to believe I did," Johnson said. 
    "He was real quick on the restarts, but there at the end I think we did a little bit better job on the restarts....and it looks like they freed their car up so it would run better on the long haul (slowing Busch on restarts probably)...and there at the end (of the previous long green) it took me much longer to get by him.
    "So it was going to be a dogfight."

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