DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Jimmie Johnson’s phone started blowing up Sunday while he was sitting in his motorhome – nowhere near Victory Lane.
Johnson was hailed as the Daytona 500 champion all over the place Sunday – he was trending on Twitter and even had friends congratulating him via text message – despite the race being in a rain delay.
Showers halted the race after 38 laps. Fox Sports responded by showing a replay of last year’s season opener, the one in which Johnson won his second 500 and Danica Patrick made history by becoming the first woman to lead laps in “The Great American Race.”
Fox ran an intermittent crawl across the bottom of the screen, saying the 2013 race was being shown while Sunday’s race was being delayed because of rain. But thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people failed to get the message.
“I hear I won the (hash)Daytona500?” Johnson posted on Twitter. “Haha! I also have friends confused and texting congratulations to me.”
Fox News, for one, erroneously reported on Johnson’s victory. And several Fox affiliates relayed the bad information.
“This evening, we erroneously reported on the Fox News Facebook page that Jimmie Johnson had won this year’s Daytona 500 race,” Fox News said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize to our viewers and readers for this inaccurate report.”
Drivers had fun with the widespread error.
“Wait a minute! I’m confused, did (at)JimmieJohnson win or not?” Clint Bowyer tweeted.
Plenty of fans on Twitter were confused throughout the replay, tweeting along as if the race was live. Deadspin ran some of them under the headline, “Scores Of Idiots Don’t Realize Fox Is Airing Last Year’s Daytona 500.”
Even NASCAR couldn’t resist jokingly weighing in on the confusion.
“Congrats (at)JimmieJohnson amazing,” tweeted Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations.
O’Donnell didn’t stop there, either, taking another playful shot about 45 minutes later.
“For those in media center getting impatient (at)JimmieJohnson should be wrapping up his victory lane ceremony shortly,” O’Donnell tweeted.
Piling onto the strange story line, Fox’s rain-delayed coverage was sponsored by the movie “Noah,” which opens March 28 and stars Russell Crowe as the title character who builds an arc to save creation from a massive flood.