Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson failed a post-qualifying inspection Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
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Johnson, who originally posted the second-fastest lap of 135.902 mph, was disqualified because the front of the No. 48 Chevy was too low on both sides. He will now start 43rd in Sunday’s Camping World 301.
After the team had issues passing a pre-qualifying inspection, Johnson was placed on the 5-minute clock by NASCAR, which means he had five minutes to assume his position on the grid without penalty.
In the post-qualifying press conference, Johnson acknowledged, "We cut it close on time.
“I tried to get my heart rate down, took a few deep breaths and fired it off, went off and had a nice lap. The car drove really good and missed it by a few thousandths for the pole.”
Said Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy: "We had some problems getting through the initial inspection process before qualifying.
"We were able to get it and got the car right, but it just wasn’t exactly right. And we weren’t going to know until after qualifying, once we started to tear it apart, what the problem was. What ended up happening is there was a disassembly issue with the right front, and that’s why the heights were so messed up as we were going through initial inspection. And that came back to bite us there in the end.”
Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski won the pole for Sunday’s race with a lap of 135.922 mph. Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five — all breaking the previous track record of 135.232 mph.
NASCAR said there would be no further penalties for the No. 48 team.