After pitting for fuel and tires on Lap 205 of Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Brad Keselowski had a sinking feeling Jimmie Johnson was going to win the race.
Keselowski also knew he would have to stop for fuel one more time, and he knew that Johnson, who had come to pit road on Lap 158, could go the distance after stopping on Lap 214.
Keselowski made a quick calculation after his pit stop. If the race stayed green till the end, he would cycle out 23rd in the running order after his final stop. That wasn't good enough to win the championship, if Johnson won the race.
A loose lug nut and a punctured oil line nullified the best efforts of the No. 48 team, leaving Johnson third in the standings behind Keselowski and Clint Bowyer and frustrated in his attempt to rally for a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
Johnson was surprised Keselowski didn't cover his move when he topped off the fuel tank on Lap 158.
"Yeah, I was surprised, and I think they were trying for track position and probably a little frustrated with being stuck in the middle of the pack," Johnson said. "It's tough to really race hard when you come down here and you have something to protect. I've been through it enough, and I definitely think those guys were feeling it today.
"Maybe (they were) outside of their game a little bit, and going for the fuel-mileage perspective, and it gave us an opportunity. It was definitely going to make things interesting. Unfortunately, we couldn't execute at the end."