Hendrick explores Jimmie Johnson’s Dover failure

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CHARLOTTE – There are no signs of worry at Hendrick Motorsports that Jimmie Johnson’s faulty axle seal could signal a quality control problem at a critical juncture of the season.

“Not at all,” teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday during a Chase for the Sprint Cup Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “It’s just kind of a freak deal that happens every once in a while. The seal can get a nick or tear throughout the weekend moving an axle in and out.

“Just a freak accident. We’ve never had any problems with our seals and everything’s always looked good with our cars. You never know. You hope you don’t have an issue with that, and something as simple as that can ruin your day.”

The failure, which occurred on Lap 103 of 400 at Dover International Speedway, ruined Johnson’s bid for a seventh championship. His No. 48 Chevrolet finished 41st Sunday and was eliminated from the playoffs.

Teammate Jeff Gordon said Johnson and Chad Knaus weren’t part of Hendrick’s weekly competition meeting Tuesday, but the failure was discussed during the debrief to “make sure that’s not something that bites us going forward.”

Gordon said the team probably didn’t make the seal but also cautioned against putting the blame on an outside vendor for the failure.

“If I wrote down the list of inexpensive parts on the car that can fail at anytime on any given weekend, you’d blow your mind,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, and trying to actually diagnose exactly what caused it and why it happened, it’s tough. Other teams will tell you these kinds of little gremlins can reach out and grab you at anytime.

“There’s procedural things. There’s a lot of different factors that play into it. … I think we can take some extra precautions to maybe make it better, but there’s more of a long-term solution to it that we can’t really address right now.”