Jimmie Johnson crashes in final Cup practice
August 17, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Five-time champion will start from the rear in search of first Michigan win
Related: Practice results, lineup
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, fastest in Saturday’s second and final practice at Michigan International Speedway, will start at the back of the field for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver wrecked his primary car during the final practice session, and only quick work by the No. 48 crew enabled Johnson to get in a handful of laps in his backup car before the practice came to an end.
Once the damaged car was returned to the garage on the back of a wrecker, a handful of crewmen worked quickly to cover the car as others rushed to prepare the team’s backup.
“I’m a little puzzled as to why I spun out going in, because I’ve had great entry stability -- even on that run I had great entry stability,” Johnson said before climbing into the backup car and heading back out onto the track.
“I got a little close to the No. 27 (of Paul Menard) but then again it’s not like I was right on him.
“To me it felt like I lost downforce just from the traffic scenario. I’m not really sure; either way we have a torn up car and we will have to work hard to get this one ready to go.”
Because Johnson’s incident occurred after qualifying (he was scheduled to start third), he will now have to drop to the rear of the field prior to the start of the race.
It will be the second time this season he has started from the rear of the field. At New Hampshire earlier this season, Johnson’s No. 2 qualifying time was disallowed when the front of his car measured too low during post-qualifying inspection. Johnson went on to finish sixth in the race.
Before Saturday’s crash, which saw Johnson spin and make contact with the wall in Turn 4, he had turned the fastest lap of the session at 199.457 mph. He had been third in the morning session, while posting the best 10-lap average before turning to his backup car.
"Very good backup car went out and put down an eight- or 10-lap run there at the end that I would put up against anybody’s time," Johnson said. "I hate the extra work load, but we are trying to figure out what really happened because I had no sign of loose and certainly spun out and crashed. The No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) came over and he said that he felt there may have been some oil down and he slipped real bad going through there."
Juan Pablo Montoya (Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) was second Saturday morning at 198.758 mph while Greg Biffle (Roush Fenway Racing), Kurt Busch (Furniture Row Racing) and Jeff Gordon (Hendrick) completed the top five.
Earnhardt Jr., 13th on the chart, had the fastest 10-lap average in the closing session.
Kevin Harvick paced the day’s first practice, a 55-minute affair, with a lap of 202.577 mph in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Hendrick teammates Kasey Kahne (202.338) and Johnson (202.304) were second and third.
Completing the top five were Montoya and teammate Jamie McMurray.
Joey Logano, whose 203.949 mph lap on Friday established a track qualifying record and put the Penske Racing driver on the Coors Light Pole, was 15th in the morning session and 22nd in the final practice.