If it weren’t for bad luck, it seems that NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson would have no luck at all. After crashing out of two of the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and struggling to a 14th place finish at Indianapolis, Johnson hoped for a turnaround Sunday at Pocono Raceway. He didn’t get it.
Trouble found Johnson on lap 9 when he slowed with a flat right rear tire after hitting the wall in along the front stretch; the debris brought out the first caution of the day. and sent Johnson to the pits several times for repairs.
Johnson however was able to rally back. By the midpoint of the 160 lap race, Johnson was moving forward again despite the damage to his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy. By lap 110 he was in fifth and it looked as though Johnson might just turn things around.
It wasn’t to be. On lap 111 Johnson hit the wall again. This time the damage was terminal and Johnson was forced to park in the garage. He later took blame for the first incident.
“The first one, I got tight off turn one and got in the fence,” Johnson said. “It pushed the rear quarter panel into the tire and got the first flat, so my bad.”
As for the second one, Johnson was unsure of what happened.
“There on that one, I am clueless.,” Johnson said. “It didn’t act like a tire went down and I am not exactly sure if it did. Normally when they go down that quick they explode and there was no explosion, the tire did not come apart, it just went straight. We are trying to get in there and look at it, obviously the tire is flat now from the impact. Hopefully we can get a reason why.”
Johnson was scored in 39th place and with his third DNF in the last four races. Despite the finish, Johnson lost only one spot in the championship standings and with three wins on the season, he is already locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Sunday at Pocono however Johnson could only reflect on what might have been.
“Unfortunate with how hard we fought to get ourselves back in contention,” he said. “ It wasn’t the best weekend but we still gave ourselves a chance at a win if not a top five today and came up a little short.”
Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race scoring his third win of the season. He’s now tied with Johnson and driver Brad Keselowski for the most wins this season.