Crash in practice sends Jimmie Johnson to backup car

Johnson crashed in final practice at Michigan International Speedway, damaging his Chevrolet beyond repair.

Crash in practice sends Jimmie Johnson to backup car

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Jimmie Johnson's quest to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway suddenly got significantly more difficult.

Roughly 22 minutes into Saturday's final practice at the two-mile track, Johnson spun in traffic entering Turn 3. His No. 48 Chevrolet SS nosed hard into the outside wall in Turn 4, damaging the car beyond repair.

The team immediately rolled out a backup car and began preparing it for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Because the car change occurred after Friday's time trials, Johnson will give up the third-place starting position he earned during qualifying and drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race.

Johnson's primary car came to rest in the infield grass, the splitter buried in the turf. After a quick trip to the infield care center, the five-time champion was back in his garage stall, describing the wreck to crew chief Chad Knaus and lending moral support to the team.

There was one minor complication. Johnson's primary chassis, which raced at Michigan in June, sported decals of sponsor Lowe's. The backup chassis, which raced at Dover in June and served as backup at Indianapolis in late July, was wrapped in KOBALT Tools colors.

But that was the least of Johnson's worries. Of more concern was determining why the car stepped out into the third corner.

"It just got loose," said Johnson, who was third fastest in Saturday's first session and fastest in Happy Hour (before the car change). "It was definitely unfortunate, because that was a very fast race car. We always bring fast race cars to the track, and we'll get this one (the backup) tuned up.

"I'm noticing that we've got the wrong paint job on it. So we'll figure something out -- I'll either change driver suits, or we'll put a wrap on it. I just hate that I'm putting this work load on my crew guys, but they're ready for the challenge, and we'll be just fine come Sunday afternoon."

Between practice sessions, the track got warmer, and handling characteristics of the cars tend more toward the loose side.

"That's definitely part of it," Johnson said. "I'm a little puzzled as to why I spun out going in, because I've had great entry stability, and even on that run I had great entry stability. I got a little close to the 27 (Paul Menard), but then again, it's not like I was right on him. To me it felt like I lost downforce just from a traffic scenario, but I'm not real sure.

"Either way, we've got a torn up car, and we'll have to work hard to get this one ready to go and hopefully make a couple of laps before the session's up and take it from there."

In fact, Johnson's team had the backup car for action with enough time left in Happy Hour to run 10 laps.

By Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service

shares
comments
Montoya knew his tenure with Ganassi was coming to an end
Previous article

Montoya knew his tenure with Ganassi was coming to an end

Next article

NASCAR racing is not as easy as it may look

NASCAR racing is not as easy as it may look
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021