Point leader goes up in smoke

It was a disastrous day for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point leader Jimmie Johnson. Johnson first spun on lap 29, losing precious ground to the field, which dropped the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy to the rear of the line-up. Although Crew Chief Chad ...

It was a disastrous day for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point leader Jimmie Johnson. Johnson first spun on lap 29, losing precious ground to the field, which dropped the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy to the rear of the line-up.

Although Crew Chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team worked furiously to fix the ailing race car, their efforts went up in smoke on lap 88; when Johnson's engine blew-up.

"That was just a freak deal there," said Johnson. "I am certain. It seems like maybe the crank or something just let go coming off of Turn 4. That car was so loose into the turns, I spun out once and had a few more good saves, but just one of those bad days you have. Last week, we were the heroes, and today we definitely weren't that."

Johnson's team has been dominant all season, winning four races and earning 15 top-ten results. Johnson has the led the point standings since Michigan, but this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Johnson's team has toiled to find the right combination.

Despite a ninth place time-trial effort, Team 48 struggled in practice sessions, and appeared not to have the Hendrick horsepower that characterizes Johnson's team.

It is the first mechanical failure for the No. 48 team this season. His two other DNF's were due to accidents at Dover and Rockingham.

Johnson maintains the series points lead, but loses ground to second place Jeff Gordon. He leads by just 97-points, after a disappointing 36th place result at the Brickyard.

Fortunately for Johnson, the loss is not as crucial under the new point system, as it would have been at this point last season.

"You can look at it either way," said Johnson of the point's loss. "We have a nice cushion, and it would have been nice to have that under the old system. Now it all resets here in a little bit anyways, but we don't want to have failures, period. We want to be out there competing for every win, so we're more disappointed than anything."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus