Johnson out after hitting wall early at Loudon
July 13, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Johnson had started on the front row before early trouble
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LOUDON, N.H. -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson found himself on the sidelines early here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after two tire problems left him with a severely damaged No. 48 Chevrolet.
Johnson, whose team tested here at the 1.058-mile track, spun on Lap 6 of Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 when his Hendrick Motorsports entry suffered a flat left rear tire.
A lap down after pitting to replace the tire, he spun again on Lap 14, this time making sufficient contact with the wall to send him to the care center and his car to the garage.
While he said he didn't know the reason for the initial tire failure, Johnson said "it wasn't due to low left rear tire pressure, which is what a lot of people are speculating."
"We've been here running for two days and I had no issues,” he said. "It's unfortunate, regardless."
Goodyear officials provided a statement saying the tires on the No. 48 "failed in a manner consistent with low inflation pressure."
Specific tire pressures are required during inspection, however they often are adjusted before and during the course of a race. Running less than the suggested minimum pressure can, under certain conditions lead to tire failure.
Team Penske driver Joey Logano wrecked during the opening practice at NHMS Friday due to a problem with his car's left-rear tire. On Saturday, Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola crashed after a similar issue. Both drivers were forced to backup cars for Sunday’s race.
Johnson said his team never saw tire issues such as those that affected other teams before race day, adding that "it's something we didn’t expect at all."
"You can look at the second tire and think that maybe some damage was done from the first (incident) that caused the second one to go so quickly," he said. "That's a good argument, but I just don't know at this point. I don’t know if we’ll ever know."
With three victories, Johnson is all but assured of a position in this year's Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The bigger concern Sunday was the loss of track time due to the early exit -- Sprint Cup teams return to in September for the second stop of the 10-race Chase.
"It's definitely a setback," he said. "We had a good test up here. We had a very fast car. It would have been nice to get a race in here before we come back for the second one."