NASCAR Sprint Cup Series reigning champion Jimmie Johnson crashed the No. 99 Gainsco Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley Thursday morning during a practice session for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. He was bruised but otherwise uninjured and expects to race on Saturday.
The Gainsco squad initially thought the car could not be fixed but subsequently determined that the damaged portion could be replaced. With Johnson's assistance, the team is flying in parts from the Riley shop in Charlotte, NC, to repair the car. The team will miss Thursday afternoon's qualifying session but should be able to take part in the race.
"This is obviously a major setback for us," said team owner Stallings.
The crash occurred when Johnson braked hard to avoid a GT car in the middle of the infield portion of the road course. When he hit the brakes, he spun and hit a tire barrier at Turn 5 on the outside of the track, twisting the chassis where the rear of the car body connects to the chassis.
Unlike some other forms of racing, the Rolex Grand-Am Series does not allow teams to bring back-up cars to the racing events. Once a car has been entered and takes part in any on-track activity it cannot be replaced if it sustains damage that cannot be fixed.
Bob Stallings Racing does have a back-up car, but it has not raced since 2008, when Cristiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser drove it at Laguna Seca. That car carried the team to the drivers' championship in 2007 and holds the series records for most poles and wins in a single season.