Jimmie Johnson scored his fourth DNF of the season at Darlington Raceway in the Southern 500 and will enter next week’s regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway still needing to secure a playoff spot.
He will finish the race 39th.
This is the third time in the last four races that Johnson will finish 28th or worse.
“It was something about the oil pump, I believe.” Johnson said to NBCSN from the garage area. “I’m not sure if it’s through the belt, of something else went on. But, the amount of time it takes to get the engine apart and the oil pump out to put a new one on, it just takes too long. Thankfully, the engine is okay, we think; but it just takes too long to get the oil pump out.”
Johnson entered the race 32 points ahead of teammate Alex Bowman for 14th in the points standings. If next week’s race at Indy provides a unique winner who is currently worst than 15th in the standings, the driver who sits in that position will not be eligible for the playoffs based on points.
Bowman had problems early in the race and was running three laps off the pace at the time of Johnson’s retirement.
Entering the finale without a guaranteed spot in the playoffs is unfamiliar territory for Johnson.
“I don’t want to be in this position,” Johnson said. “We have been around this spot for a while. We have seen it coming. We just need to transfer and honestly, I think our cars are capable of running in the top five. If we can just start minimizing mistakes, my own included, we will be much better off and have a shot.”