Eight will have to wait.
In a must-win situation in the final elimination race of the playoffs, Jimmie Johnson made an early exit at Phoenix International Raceway after blowing a right-front tire and hitting the Turn 3 wall. The accident occurred on the final lap of Stage 2 while Johnson was running in the 11th position.
“I really didn’t have any warning. I knew 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,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, with so few laps to go to the end of the stage, as soon as I went in the corner and touched the brakes, the right front just blew. I hate it for this team. They’ve worked so hard all year long, and I’m very proud of their efforts.
“It’s obviously not the result that we want, but we’re Hendrick strong, and I’m proud of my Team 48 and very thankful for this sport that Lowe’s and Kobalt gives us, and Chevrolet. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to make eight this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard.”
Johnson will likely to finish 39th of 40 cars. It will be his seventh DNF of the season.
Last season Johnson won his record-tying seventh championship in walk-off fashion at Homestead by winning the race. However, Johnson and company have struggled throughout the summer months, and the best finish the team earned in the Round of 8 was a 12th at Martinsville Speedway.
“We have been staying alive, and that is not going to cut it for the Round of 8 and then the Round of 4,” Johnson said of his playoff run. “We put a lot of effort into the whole season, especially the last couple of weeks and I just feel terrible that we didn’t get better results than what we have had.
“A huge thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for their efforts. … We will go to Homestead and try to win one more and then get ready for next year.”