Martin Truex Jr. said the silver lining of his last lap incident with Jimmie Johnson at Charlotte is that Johnson failed to advance in the playoffs.
Truex was leading heading into Turns 16 and 17 — the frontstretch chicane — when Johnson locked up the brakes behind him. When Johnson spun to the right, he was close enough to make contact with the rear of Truex, sending him around and allowing Ryan Blaney to go by both for the victory.
Already locked into the Round of 12 via points, Truex missed out on another win. Johnson lost enough positions that he ended up being on the wrong end of a three-way tie for the 12th and final spot on the playoff grid.
“He wasn’t ever going to make it through that corner whether I was there or not,” Truex said. “Just desperation on his part and pretty stupid really if you think about it because he was locked into the next round [as he was running second] and now he’s out. I guess if there’s a silver lining, that’s it.
“Want to thank Auto-Owners and all their associates with what they did with this race car being teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and it was a big day for us. It would have been really fun to take it to victory lane, but at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be, and we’ll move on to the next one.”
Johnson repeatedly apologized during his post-race interviews on pit road. However, the seven-time champion was also adamant he could make a move on Truex, saying both the chicanes were his strengths. Johnson was also upset that in hindsight the move ended up costing him his spot in the playoffs.
“I had passed the whole field time after time after time, so I was hopeful I could get it done and thought I could do it,” said Johnson. “I didn’t enter the corner thinking I was going to take Martin out. I really felt like I could get in there and race with him for it, and unfortunately, made a mistake and cost us both.”
Truex was so upset afterward that spun Johnson in between Turns 1 and 2 on the cool-down lap.
“I gave him the inside lane, and he had the run through (oval Turn) 4, and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of 4 there to the chicane. He just over-drove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around.
“It sucks. We could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win, and that would have been cool. The fans would have been digging it, but instead, we finished 14th, and he’s locked out of the playoffs. I guess that’s what he gets.”