INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson will miss the playoffs for the first time in his career after he was involved in a crash on Lap 104 while racing teammate William Byron for sixth in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Johnson now has no chance for a record eighth championship this season.
“I’ve had 25 races coming into this where I’ve been worried about it,” he said about missing the playoffs. “Unfortunately, it’s happened. … I am impressed that we have been in 15 consecutive playoffs in a row. … Our record doesn’t stink. Wish we could have kept it going but life goes on.”
After the accident, Johnson was asked if he was OK. He responded: “I’m fine. I’m just curious why we were in that position.”
Asked about the accident, Johnson said: “We were three-wide going into Turn 2 and I knew (Byron) was super tight on me. I’m not exactly how the rest of it unfolded from there. I got sucked around.
“I just feel like that was a position there that William could have thought about the position he put us in. That could have been avoided I felt like.”
After his fourth-place finish, William Byron was asked about the incident with Johnson.
“I was trying to give (Kurt Busch) room because we were three-wide,” Byron said. “I’ve got to see a replay of it to be honest. I was trying to give (Busch) to not push him out of the groove and I felt like maybe I gave just an inch too much to (Busch) and an inch less room to (Johnson). I hate that the circumstances with (Johnson) that that happened. It wasn’t intentional. I was just trying to give room to all the guys around me and it’s tough when you’re three-wide.”
After the crash, Johnson drove the car back to the team’s hauler ending his race and playoff chances. He finished 35th.
“Thanks for the fight guys,” crew chief Cliff Daniels said on the radio to the team. “I promise you guys our season is not done.”
Johnson’s day was full of drama.
On his first pit stop, Bubba Wallace overshot his pit behind Johnson and stopped. Chase Elliott was hit and spun and the incident caused some problems with the right rear that forced Johnson to pit again, losing track position in the first stage. When the second stage did not restart in the final four laps, it robbed Johnson of a chance to gain more position and stage points. He finished behind Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez and lost some of the points he had gained on them by placing sixth in the first stage.
After exiting the care center, Johnson said:
“Definitely a disappointing outcome. We had some adversity to overcome. There was that pit road crash that almost wiped out my tire changer and then in the panic of dodging everything they didn’t tighten up the right rear tire and I had to come back around and pit.
“Coming from the back of the field to work our way through there, I think our car had good pace, just these restarts are so crazy with this rules package. Everybody is trying to get everything they can and we came out on the bad side of the deal there in Turn 2.”