NASCAR & Auto Racing

Assuming doesn't really appear to be best approach

Playing back Sunday's NASCAR event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

REAR-VIEW MIRROR | DAVID POOLE

Did you hear the one about ...

You don't need me to tell you what happened Sunday was a joke. Whose fault was it?

Same as in 2005 when there were 22 cautions on the "levigated" surface at Lowe's Motor Speedway - everybody's.

You can't have a debacle like this without a lot of people making bad decisions. The mistake here seemed to be that NASCAR and Goodyear assumed the track would start "rubbering in" as it always has. They were wrong, and at this level you can't afford to be that wrong about something that important.

Cue the X Games promos, please

By the middle of the race I was actually looking forward to seeing ESPN's horrifyingly bad X Games commercials instead of that travesty on the track.

At least the bird got some camera time

Jeff Burton's car hit a bird as he was taking the lead on a restart on Lap 106, splattering it.

ESPN showed that on a slow-motion replay for two reasons.

First, it was about the most exciting thing that had happened to that point. Second, after that incident it was absolutely the truth when somebody said, "Now that bird is in a better place."

Maybe this isn't the best time for that

I believe I would have canned the Goodyear blimp promos Jerry Punch had to read on the broadcast - the ones about "track-tested technology" and "innovation" that ended with Punch saying "Get there on Goodyear."

PIT STOPS

Edwards not quite able to catch Johnson

Carl Edwards was certain with all the tire trouble during Sunday's race, Jimmie Johnson was holding back some on his car. What he didn't know was how much.

Edwards found out in the final seven green-flag laps run as Johnson was able to keep a reasonable distance ahead of Edwards to capture his second Allstate 400 win at the Brickyard.

"At the end I actually believed we were going to be able to drive by Jimmie. All day I'd been racing around him," Edwards said. "I thought I was a little better than him, but he was holding back a little more than I thought he was."

Edwards' runner-up finish was his best performance at Indy in four starts. His previous best was ninth in 2004. He also gained in points, moving to fifth, 320 behind leader Kyle Busch. Hamlin gains much-needed ground

After a poor showing at Chicagoland two weeks ago, Denny Hamlin had fallen to the 12th position in points - the final spot to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

His third-place finish in Sunday's Allstate 400 was not only his career-best at the Brickyard, but also helped give him some breathing room in the points race. He moved to eighth, 93 points ahead of 13th-place Kevin Harvick.

The performance was even more impressive considering the tire problems plaguing the race all day.

"Track position meant a lot. When you raced your car harder at the end of the race, it did things it hadn't done all day because you hadn't been running two seconds faster all day," Hamlin said.

"We just had to do the best we could."

McMurray turns in strong performance

Ending a weekend when Jamie McMurray again had to deny he would be leaving Roush Fenway Racing and didn't get the greatest words of support from team owner Jack Roush, McMurray turned in his best performance of the season.

He ran in the top 10 most of the race and his No. 26 Ford team adapted to NASCAR's mandated cautions for tire wear quite well. McMurray ended up sixth, passed by Jeff Gordon on the final lap, denying him his first top-five of the season.

"It's just frustrating. They said the track was getting better in happy hour, but we didn't see that and it never really did take rubber," McMurray said.

"I got really mad in the middle (of the race) because they were letting us run until the tires were blowing up and I'm. like, 'You can't put us in that situation.' "

One to remember

A.J. Allmendinger earned his career-best points finish at one of NASCAR's biggest races. He'll have plenty to remember from Sunday, despite all the tire problems.

"It's Indy, we're running up front, we led a couple laps. We were no worse than 10th all day. Starting to run with these guys every weekend is a lot of fun," the second-year Red Bull Racing driver said.

Allemendinger's only problem with his 10th-place finish on Sunday was that he couldn't take full advantage of it because of the repeated NASCAR-mandated competition cautions.

"Every time we would get to about lap seven or eight on the tire, you were just praying that you wouldn't blow a right-rear. Every lap I felt it and I would just ask when the yellow was coming out," he said.

KEY MOMENTS

Lap 26

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who'd stayed out on a yellow at Lap 15 after making his first stop on Lap 7, falls off the pace with a tire issue and winds up losing a lap. That showed that the strategy of not stopping to gain track position wasn't going to work in this race.

Lap 142

After taking four tires on their next-to-last pit stop, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards restart ninth and 10th, respectively. They race each other hard for the next several laps, but Johnson's ability to keep Edwards behind him pays off later in the race.

Lap 151

Johnson's crew gets his No. 48 Chevrolet off pit road first on its final pit stop after changing just two tires. Denny Hamlin had the lead coming to pit road, but the fact that his stop was a tick slower proves critical.

Lap 154

Johnson gets a solid restart with seven laps remaining, keeping Edwards at bay for what could have been Edwards' best chance to mount a challenge to wrestle the victory away.

Lap 160

Johnson takes the white flag and makes it all the way back around to the checkered flag without incident to clinch the victory. Hey, the way things were going on this day that was certainly no small accomplishment.

NEXT RACE

Pennsylvania 500

Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

TV: ESPN.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

Last year's winner: Kurt Busch.

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