No matter what Jimmie Johnson's performance was at Richmond International Speedway was on Saturday night, he was pretty much on the deal for the NEXTEL Chase for the Championship. The only question was what position he would be in at the end of the evening.
He entered Richmond, first in points after recovering the lead at California Speedway last weekend from teammate Jeff Gordon. But Johnson's hopes of leading the Chase for the Championship went up in smoke at lap 180. Johnson was swept up in an accident in turn four involving the cars of Dale Jarrett, Mike Wallace, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ricky Rudd, Brian Vickers, and Jimmy Spencer.
Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy definitely got the worst of it, as the No. 48 spun through turn 4 and burst into flames.
"It's hard for me to believe that the No. 41 (Casey Mears) could have made the No. 88 (Dale Jarrett) that mad," commented an obviously irate Johnson. "The No. 88 tried three or four laps to wreck the No. 41 and couldn't get it done and then the No. 4 tried and finally did it. He was chasing him from the bottom of the race track all the way to the marbles trying to wreck him.
"I don't understand why and what, but this is the way this points system works. We've got desperate guys doing desperate things. This could happen at Homestead. That's the only thing that I don't like about the points system s that you can have somebody acting like this and be completely out of a championship.
"This is why I am not a big fan of this point system. We've put to much hard work and effort into this to have something stupid like this happen. We'll just roll on. Hopefully, lady luck is on our side from now on."
The 36th place result for Johnson send him from the top of the points heap to second. As the points are being reset at the close of tonight's event, Johnson will only trail leader Jeff Gordon by five markers entering Loudon, New Hampshire next weekend.
"I can see this happening every week until Homestead," said Johnson. "NASCAR needs to find a way to police this, and if someone wrecks someone they need to park them."