A tough day for Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway took a turn for the worse on Lap 171 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that was scheduled to run 267 laps.
The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet was battling with Brad Keselowski for the free pass position when he blew a right front tire in the tri-oval and hit the outside wall going into Turn 1.
As Johnson’s car got into the wall, rookie Jeb Burton slowed and was hit from behind by Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. The contact sent Burton’s No. 26 Toyota into the outside wall and caused damage to the nose and hood of Gordon’s car.
Article continues below ...
After the race Gordon apologized to Burton on pit road, saying he was about to make a move on the rookie and did not realize Johnson had a problem.
Each of the cars came down pit road for repairs, but was able to continue at the time.
Johnson was 26th, one lap down to the leaders, while Gordon was 16th, the last car on the lead lap. Burton had been struggling throughout the race and was listed as 42nd, nine laps down to the leaders when the race restarted.
Johnson was strong early, leading 45 laps, but was forced to pit road under green with a tire vibration on Lap 92. That unscheduled stop dropped Johnson one lap down to the leaders and he was battling with Keselowski for the free pass position when his tire blew and he made contact with the wall.
The six-time champion’s bad day was not over, however. On Lap 185, Johnson hit the wall again, this time in Turns 3 and 4. The car went into the corner and took off toward the wall after cutting another right front tire.
Unable to make repairs on pit road after the Lap 185 incident, Johnson took his car behind the wall.
"The first (tire) they said the bead blew on it," Johnson said as he sat in his car. "We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that. That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft, so there could have been some damage that caused it or a rub or something like that. It went soft going into Turn 3 and I hit the wall unfortunately."
Johnson was able to get his car back on track, but finished the day 41st, 31 laps down to race winner Kevin Harvick.
No denying the fact our cars are bad fast. Not the result we had hoped for but there is always next week.