Flopping in NASCAR? Say It Ain’t So, Juan Pablo
Quick question: what’s the fine for flopping in the biggest flop game known – basketball? Well, the Miami Heat’s Lebron James and Indiana Pacers’ David West certainly found out during their recent series when the NBA fined both $5,000 for “flopping.”
Now it seems flopping has found its way into NASCAR, that is if you ask Jimmie Johnson as he continues to sting from the final restart at Dover in which he was penalized for a violation when he surged ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya at the start/finish line.
A recent ESPN article states that while Johnson maintains Montoya can’t admit his mistake, both drivers have come to the agreement that they disagree about what Montoya may or may not have done in four-wheeled theatrics near the race’s conclusion.
Regardless, the end result is Johnson’s penalty even though he states Montoya pulled off a NASCAR version of a long-known and now punishable tactic found in the NBA.
So is this the new shuck and jive in NASCAR? The new fake move as has been seen during pit stops where a driver will sham a pit entry and instead stay out on the track?
Montoya continues to laugh the whole thing off even as he finished second to Tony Stewart, who won the Sprint Cup Series race, saying Johnson simply mistimed the restart causing the penalty on his own.
“If I did something so wrong, why is it only Jimmie passed me?” Montoya asked one week later at Pocono Raceway. “If I had such a bad restart, why didn’t NASCAR say anything? It was Jimmie and the whole rest of the field.
“Jimmie didn’t even want to line up next to me. He was trying to time it and he mistimed it.”
Something to which Johnson disagrees.
But even so, after starting on the inside of the front row as the second-place car, he raced ahead of Montoya at the restart and in doing so, did not give back the position, which violates NASCAR rules. As a result, Johnson was enforced a slow drive down pit road, which caused him to finish 17th in a race he dominated most of the day.
“To me it’s like the problem with flopping in an NBA game,” Johnson said. “Juan just didn’t go. In my opinion, he played it right to let me get out ahead of him. Nothing against Juan doing it. As racers, we work every angle. I put it more on the officiating. Everybody could see Juan just didn’t go. I took the bait. He found a loophole and worked it to his advantage.”
Montoya smiled when told of Johnson’s comment: “Did I? Wow, I’m that good.” He then went on to say, “Look, what’s so hard to understand? There’s no drama. The leader restarts the race. That’s the rule. You can’t beat the leader to the line.”
Johnson simply states the wrong call was made and the rule is unclear by saying, “We have the tools to make a better decision. The race was taken away from us. NASCAR has the ability to make the call, so when someone flops, what then?”
Good question. Maybe James or West know the answer. Or better yet, NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Follow David Dorion on Twitter @dhdorion