News & Media

Blown tire, subsequent wreck ruins Johnson's day

November 12, 2012, Joe Menzer,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- For 233 laps of Sunday's scheduled 312-lap Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson was doing a pretty fair job of keeping pace with the No. 2 Dodge of Brad Keselowski.

Johnson, who entered the race hoping to build on the seven-point lead he had in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings, was running seventh at the time. Keselowski had just taken the race lead.

"All along I was just hoping to either come out of this race a few points ahead or a few points behind heading into [the final race of the season at] Homestead," Johnson said. "I thought we were on course to do that.

That all changed in a split second, as Johnson felt a slight vibration in his No. 48 Chevrolet -- and then suddenly was headed for the outside wall after his right-front tire went flat. He hit the wall hard and ended up having to go to the garage for extensive repairs.

By the time Johnson returned to the track with 40 laps remaining in the regular-scheduled portion of the race, he was 38 laps down. He ended up finishing 32nd, a total of 39 laps down, and now heads into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday 20 points behind Keselowski.

"I think we would have finished in the top five, maybe seventh or eighth, if I hadn't had that happen and hit the wall," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, as a result, we lost control of this championship. We can go down there and try to win the race and do all that we can, but we're not in control of our own destiny now."