Johnson, others caught in multi-car crash at Kansas, stirring up playoff picture

A multi-car crash early in the final stage knocked several drivers from contention Thursday night at Kansas Speedway, including Jimmie Johnson, who tumbled out of the NASCAR Cup Series’ provisional playoff grid.

RELATED: Official race results

Joey Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford veered into the Turn 2 wall after a restart on the 176th of a scheduled 267 laps in the Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. The chain reaction collected the cars of Johnson, Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto in its wake.

“I felt it going into (Turn) 3 right before we took the green, and I felt it kind of landing on the splitter and honestly thought that the left-front shock went bad,” Logano said after being checked at the infield care center. He led 27 laps early, but finished 35th. “It wasn’t like it was flat, it was just down a little bit. Maybe it was bad judgment on my part. I just thought it wasn’t that bad and didn’t want to lose all our track position for something I wasn’t sure of. Hindsight is 20-20 and I apologize to everyone that was involved in it. It just stinks.”

Johnson was able to continue after repairs, but attempts to get his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet up to the required minimum speed fell short. Thursday’s race netted a 32nd-place result, marking his seventh straight finish outside the top 10.

Johnson had entered Thursday’s 400-miler clinging to the 16th and final spot in the provisional playoff picture. His DNF cost him three positions in the points standings, putting teammate William Byron into the final provisional berth. Johnson is now 18 points below the cut line, with rookie Tyler Reddick and Erik Jones now ahead of him.

Dillon went from celebrating as last weekend’s winner at Texas Motor Speedway to finishing 27th at Kansas, 16 laps down in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet. DiBenedetto’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford was severely damaged; he placed 36th in the 40-car field, losing some of his cushion above the postseason cut.

“I couldn’t tell what was going on,” DiBenedetto said. “I just tried to go low. I saw guys checked up off of (Turn) 2. I didn’t see it. I just got clipped in the right side. Nothing I could do different. I am not going to lie. I am pretty frickin’ irritated. We have had garbage luck the last couple of weeks. The Menards Dutch Boy Ford Mustang was fast and we deserve better. We are racing for the playoffs and this is just annoying.”