Jimmie Johnson‘s hope for a record-setting eighth Cup championship in 2017 is over.
Instead, it’ll be wait until next year for the No. 48 team.
Johnson appeared to cut a tire on Lap 149 of Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway, one lap before the end of Stage 2. He hit the outside retaining wall and sustained heavy damage, prompting the team to immediately take the car to the garage for repairs.
“I really didn’t have any warning,” Johnson told NBC Sports. “Unfortunately, with so few laps left to go to the end of the stage, as soon as I went into the corner and touched the brakes, the right front just blew.
“I hate it for this team. They’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m so proud of their efforts. I know it’s not the results we want, but we’re Hendrick strong and I’m proud of Team 48. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to make eight this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard.
“Disappointed for sure, but the last couple of months we’ve been staying alive. But at this stage, you can’t just stay alive, you have to hit on all eight cylinders. … We just can’t get there right now.”
Goodyear tweeted after Johnson’s exit that excessive heat melted a tire bead, causing the right front to fail.
Because the only way Johnson would advance to next Sunday’s Championship 4 race in Miami was with a win in today’s race, his title hopes are now officially over.
Just before the incident, crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson on the team radio to keep his car up on the high line around the 1-mile track.