Six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson got to start his off week a little early, and that’s not a good thing. Johnson suffered a tire failure on the seventh lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Camping World RV 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday. Johnson, who had started second and was second at the time, was able to slow and made it to pit road under green.
Johnson went a lap down and was hoping to fight his way back when disaster struck again on lap 14. Johnson lost another left rear tire. This time he couldn’t recover and spun hard into the turn 1 wall.
“The first one (tire) I was able to drive the car all the way through Turns 1 and 2,” Johnson said. “I knew I had a flat and then got down the back and came in. The other one just blew on the straight as soon as I hit the brakes. I’m not sure what caused it. “
To many observers it appeared Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevy was running very low air pressure in the tires, leading to the speculation that the low pressure was the cause of the failure.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation and I’m sure finger pointing back to the teams or our team,” Johnson said. “But we saw some issues here especially with that particular tire the last couple of days. We will try to dig in and learn more, but I can promise you one thing is wasn’t low tire pressure. I’ve been out here for two days running around and haven’t had a flat.”
A Goodyear spokesperson would later say the tires were not the issue, the team running lower than recommended tire pressure on the part of the team cause the failure.
After his crash, Johnson was still not putting the blame on his team.
“I can promise you one thing, it wasn’t due to low left rear tire pressure, which is what a lot of people are speculating,” Johnson said. “We’ve been here for two days running and I had no issues. It’s unfortunate, regardless. And then you can look at the second tire and think that maybe some damage was done from the first tire that caused the second one to go so quickly. That’s a good argument but I just don’t know at this point. I don’t know if we’ll ever know. Unfortunately, two tires went flat in a matter of laps.”
The crew looked at the damaged Chevy and with Johnson’s three wins in 2014 assuring him berth in the championship Chase, decided to retire the No. 48 for the day. The three time New Hampshire winner was scored 42nd. The DNF came a week after Johnson was caught up in a crash at Daytona and also scored 42nd.
“It’s definitely a setback,” Johnson said. “We had a good test up here. We had a very fast car. It would have been nice to get a race in here before we come back for the second one, so it’s definitely a setback missing out on track time.”