Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but at the end of the race he had to settle for the runner-up spot when Kurt Busch passed him on Lap 490 of the 500-lap race.
It was not an expected outcome for the six-time champion and eight-time Martinsville winner. But at the end of the day, second place was all Johnson had.
Johnson and Busch waged a titanic battle over the final 40 laps, two heavyweight racers who traded the lead four times. And that may have eased the sting of not winning somewhat.
"We unloaded off the truck fast and qualified well and had an awesome car here in the race today," Johnson said of his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet after the race. "Of course, we’re disappointed not to get to Victory Lane, but there wasn’t anything else I could do."
Johnson knew he was in a war at the end of the race.
"Man, I got back by him (Busch) and I thought that we had control of the race then," Johnson said. "I felt like since I hadn’t seen him through really any part of the day that he might have me on short-run speed but he would fall off. He stayed in my mirror and found a way back by me and then got a car length or so on me and did an awesome job. â¦ I came up a little short, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort."
Johnson also was happy that at least he was in a position to win.
"It’s nice to know our cars are good," Johnson said. "This track is in the Chase, so we’ll come back a lot smarter and try to prevent running second again. You just learn from the situation. I’m not saying there was a mistake today, but you learn from this weekend and carry it forward.
"This is a brand-new car and a lot of stuff to figure out, so I know in the coming months the car’s setups will be a lot different, and we’ll just keep evolving and try to prevent running second."