Johnson, who was third in points coming into today’s race riding a hot-streak of stellar finishes – second at Dover and first at Kansas – was battling Chase rival Ryan Newman for sixth as the 500 mile race winded down. What appeared to be another solid finish for Johnson, was instantly wiped away with 16 to go when contact with Newman sent the championship contender directly into the turn two wall, nose-first.
“That one stung for sure, just thankful to have safe racecars, safe walls, softer walls and everything did its job,” said Johnson. “Pretty big impact. Unfortunate that we wrecked.
“The No. 39 just got tight on my right rear quarter panel getting in to turn one and just took the air off the side of my car and around I went. From there I was trying to save the slide, got pointed back to the fence and hammered the wall.”
Johnson’s significant front-end damage crippled the car on the backstretch, relegating Johnson to his worst finish of the season in 34th.
“We just have to go racing,” said Johnson after being treated and released from the infield care center. “That is all there is to it. Definitely not the night we wanted. This is not going to help us win a sixth championship. Promise you, this team and myself, we won’t quit. We will go for every point we can from here on out and hopefully we are still champions at the end of the year.”
Johnson dropped to eighth in points, trailing points leader Carl Edwards by 35 heading into Talladega Superspeedway, the track Johnson won at in April.