Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray both walked away from vicious wrecks within moments of each other in Turn 1 at Pocono Raceway on Lap 97 of the Axalta presents the Pocono 400.
Going into Turn 1, Johnson believes something might have failed with the brakes as the pedal went straight to the floor. Smoke also bellowed out of the rear tires and soon the No. 48 was sideways into the grass before coming back on track and slamming into the wall with the right side of the car.
Over the radio, Johnson told his team he was OK but he “got away with one there.” After climbing from his car, the seven-time champion took a few minutes to catch his breath while sitting by the wall.
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“The smoke, I think, is the brake fluid coming out of wherever failed and onto the rotors,” Johnson told FS1 after leaving the infield care center. “I can only speculate that I got the brakes too hot and when I went to the brakes they just traveled straight to the floor. I didn’t even have a pedal to push on. At that point, I threw it in third gear and I was just trying to slow it down.
“I was heading to the grass and I was wondering why I didn’t turn right and get to the wall sooner, but I’m fine. Certainly, a big scare. I haven’t had a scare like that since 2000 at Watkins Glen. So, just want to let my wife and kids and my mom know that I’m okay and I will go change my underwear and get ready to go home.”
When the car started to get away from him, Johnson tried to slow it down by steering toward the grass. He admitted it was the opposite of what he thought he would do if he ever again found himself in a situation like Watkins Glen.
“I told myself if this ever happened again I would turn immediately into the outside wall and try to slow myself down, but my instincts, you are looking at the corner, you look at all that real estate to the inside and I pointed it down to the infield,” Johnson said. “Once I was in the grass, I was like, man, I’ve been here before, I should have just turned dead right into the wall and got to the wall right away. You have a split-second decision to make there. Fortunately, this one turned out well for me, just an exciting ride.
“I didn’t have a long pedal or anything to tell me to not use my brakes like I had been. And when I went in the corner and hit the pedal, it travelled immediately to the floor and I could see a little puff of smoke and I knew I was in big trouble. I quickly stuffed it into third gear and tried to slow the car down and got into the grass. Fortunately, I had a decent angle when I hit the wall in Turn 1. Outside of scaring myself pretty good, all is well.”
A little way behind Johnson was McMurray, who happened to have the same issue and also hit the wall. McMurray then had to quickly bail from his Chevrolet when it caught on tire.
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“I didn’t really even see the 48 car wrecking until I just went down and I got on the brake pedal and my pedal started to go to the floor and I had a little bit that I could kind of pump it and I thought I was going to be okay,” McMurray said.
“And then, I don’t know if I got into some oil or what happened, but I just started spinning and didn’t have any brakes. So, it was really weird that we kind of both had the same thing happen at the same point on the racetrack, but fortunately, we are both okay and yeah, move on.”