Johnson wrecks out of Brickyard 400 in three-wide battle for the win
The possibility of a fifth Brickyard 400 win was two laps away for Jimmie Johnson.
With three victories to his credit — and locked into NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Playoffs — Johnson took his shot at the win but ended up in the wall with his fourth DNF of 2017.
Johnson, who started from the rear of the field after the team changed the rear gear in the No. 48 Chevrolet, was running third behind Kasey Kasey and Brad Keselowski when the race restarted after the 11th caution. Johnson had smoke coming from his car when he dove under Kahne out of Turn 2, got his teammate loose then took the drivers three-wide on the back stretch before wrecking himself in Turn 3.
“I was blowing up,” Johnson said. “I was definitely smoking and it was definitely engine oil smoke, I could smell that. I didn’t know where it was coming from and I had decent grip through (Turns) 1 and 2, and so I went into Turn 3. I had a shot to win the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time; and I was hoping one, the engine would live, and two, we would make it through Turns 3 and 4.”
Kahne went on to win his first Brickyard 400 — and the 10th for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson finished 27th and dropped to 10th in the standings.
He finished ninth in the first stage and was 17th in the second segment after contact with Kyle Larson. Larson was tired of Johnson blocking the No. 42 Chevy and knocked him out of the way.
“Yeah, the blocking has been there for a long time and it’s so tough to pass,” Johnson said. “With stage racing, every position matters and it’s just ramped-up the blocking and the intensity.
“So, that’s just normal stuff out there right now. If Mark Martin would have a heart attack if he were racing in this era! (laughs). So, the game has changed, for sure.”
Johnson was 12th on Lap 120. As the leaders started green-flag pit stops on Lap 130, he moved up to second behind Brad Keselowski. A multi-car wreck on Lap 150 opened the door for Keselowski and Johnson to pit. Kahne, who pitted on Lap 149, inherited the lead. After a 20-minute delay, Kahne lined up first with Newman second. Keselowski, Trevor Bayne and Johnson rounded out the top five with seven laps to decide the contest.
The race was delayed again on Lap 157 when a wreck occurred between Ty Dillon, Larson and Ryan Blaney. When the race returned to green with two laps to go, Johnson made the move on Kahne, but it was too little, too late.
“I got really loose going into the corner,” Johnson added. “So I don’t know if I spun out in my own oil or if it was an aero situation, but I was so close to my fifth win here at the Brickyard.”
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|Location||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|