Jimmie Johnson’s dream of an eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship will have to wait at least one more year.
Johnson blew a right-front tire one lap before the end of Stage 2 in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway, the final race of the Cup playoff semi-final round.
When the tire failed, Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet went hard into the wall, knocking him out of the race and out of the playoffs. Johnson was running ninth when the tire let go.
“I really didn’t have any warning,” said Johnson, who needed a victory at Phoenix to advance. “I knew that I was hard on the brakes, but the run before, we didn’t have any issues reported back. So I felt like I was kind of doing the same thing. Unfortunately, with so few laps to go until the end of the stage, as soon as I went in the corner and touched the brakes, the right-front (tire) blew.”
This year’s Cup playoffs have been hugely disappointing for Johnson.
He has led just two of nine playoff races, with only one top-five and three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 16.11
“Unfortunately we won’t have a chance to make eight this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard,” said Johnson. “… We just haven’t been there, unfortunately.”