Jimmie Johnson on qualifying crash: 'The steering wheel came off'

Published Mar. 11, 2016 8:19 p.m. ET

The scariest moment at Phoenix International Raceway occurred during the third and final round of qualifying for Sunday's Good Sam 500, when six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson took a hard hit.

During the session, something broke on the front of Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, sending his car at high speed into the Turn 2 wall.

"Just a really hard impact into the outside wall," Johnson said. "Thankful that we have SAFER barriers and soft walls. We're very disappointed, because we had such a fast race car. The guys worked so hard to get this thing tuned up.

"Thankfully, we have tomorrow to work on the back-up car," said Johnson. "... Certainly not what we wanted."

Johnson didn't explain the reason for the crash in media interviews, but later took to Twitter.

"About qualifying, the steering wheel came off," Johnson said. "I know my interview was vague, but wanted to tell the team first. I'm thankful for soft walls."

Kyle Busch later won the pole for the race Sunday at Phoenix International Speedway.


Johnson was on his second lap in the final round on the mile oval when he couldnt turn and his car rammed into the second-turn wall. The right front of the Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 car took the most damage and Johnson was able to climb out after the car slid onto the grass.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.