May 9, 2014, 1:26 PM EST
After last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski took heat for running with the leaders while being multiple laps down before he lost control and triggered a major crash during the event.
Keselowski said that he had to be aggressive in order to try and get his laps back, but several of his peers were still frustrated with what they saw as a poor decision on his part.
As for Jimmie Johnson, he said today at Kansas Speedway that if he were in Keselowski’s shoes, he probably would have chosen to ride toward the back instead. However, he admitted that such a situation is tough to be in.
“You have to think being six laps down, you are not going to get back on the lead lap,” he explained. “There is an opinion [that if] you are on the race track, you deserve a right to go race regardless how many laps down you are. I’m sure that is probably a smaller percentage of people have that opinion.
“It’s very easy when you are caught up in that wreck is to go ‘Why were you racing, you are six laps down.’ It just depends on where you are. If you are a No. 2 fan or Brad, you are probably over here. If you are [a fan of a driver] that was caught up in the wreck, you are probably in the majority in thinking it wasn’t right to race then.”
That said, Johnson believes last weekend’s incident is simply a byproduct of restrictor-plate racing, not of anything untoward by the 2012 Sprint Cup champion.
“Cars were crashed, but it’s not like – just using Brad as an example – it’s not like he went into the corner and just dumped somebody and there is going to be retaliation for a move like that,” he said. “It is plate racing and you just…throw it in the “plate bucket” and move on.
Johnson sustained damage in the Keselowski crash and then triggered a multi-car crash himself when he spun out with 13 laps to go. He managed to get home in 23rd place, but it still marked a continuation of what’s been an up-and-down season for him and his Hendrick Motorsports team.
The defending Sprint Cup champion remains winless so far in 2014, but as usual, Johnson insisted that no one in the 48 camp is panicking.
“I don’t think that we are where we want to be as a team right now, but we have had a few looks at wins and I know we will get a few more,” he said. “We just need to capitalize on that. If not, points still matter.
“There is a bigger window to make the Chase today than there was last year. Last year was 12, this year it’s 16. I don’t think there is anything to stress out about yet.”
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