It would seem that five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson just can’t catch a break. A week after blowing an engine at Michigan, Johnson suffered more bad luck at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night.
After starting 13th, Johnson seemed to have trouble moving forward. He was hanging on inside the top 20 however and biding his time as the laps wound down. Then on lap 358 Johnson’s night turned into a very bad one.
Brian Vickers got into David Reutimann sending Reutimann into the outside wall. Reutimann slid down the track and Johnson careened into the back. The crash broke the radiator on Johnson’s Chevy sending him directly to the garage. The crew was able to repair the damage and get Johnson back out, but he finished 36th, 60 laps down.
Despite the finish, which was only marginally better than his 40th at Michigan the week prior, Johnson could still smile at the end of the night.
“We will definitely come back next week and do all we can,” Johnson told Examiner. “We had a decent finish. Last week I really thought we had a shot to win and had an engine failure. This racing stuff happens. Luckily, we had a big point’s lead that we can kind of deal with right now.”
That big points lead was cut in half as Johnson leaves Bristol only 18 points ahead of second place Clint Bowyer. However, with five titles and his spot in this year’s Chase already guaranteed, Johnson knows he still has plenty of time.
“We’ve locked into the Chase,” Johnson said. “We certainly want to clean things up and have some great finishes rolling into the Chase. We’ll keep after it, and be back again next week. We’ll go to Atlanta and do all we can there. And then Richmond; and I feel like we had a really good test. There is still a lot of racing left. And the once the Chase starts, it is its own animal. So we’ll just wait and see what happens during those ten (races).”
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