Jimmie Johnson didn’t see the checkered flag in what may have been his final start in the Daytona 500.
Johnson, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, was collected in the lap 185 accident where nearly half of the field suffered damage. Unfortunately for Johnson, the damage sustained to his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was severe enough to force him into the garage.
“That 22 car [Joey Logano] had been pretty aggressive all day long,” said Johnson, who finished 35th. “I just felt like it was a matter of time before his pushes were a little much, and it looks like that was the case there. But our Ally Chevy was really strong. I hate that we were tore up in it.”
While he only led three laps, which came during the green flag pit cycle just before the crash, Johnson did spend time challenging amongst the leaders. After the race restarted on Monday afternoon, Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates lined up and paced the field until late in Stage 1.
Johnson was in the main pack where the ‘Big One’ broke out. It was the result of a chain reaction from Logano bump-drafting Aric Almirola, who then bumped Keselowski, sending the 2012 champion sideways.
“I’m really excited about the races ahead of us,” continued Johnson. “Cliff Daniels (crew chief) did a great job leading this team, full support from Hendrick Motorsports, my family, my friends, my fans. I’m just very thankful for all of that. We didn’t get to victory lane, but I’m ready to get to Vegas and get to work out there.”
The 2020 season is Johnson’s 19th and final full year. Although, he is not ruling out running any additional races should the right opportunity present themselves, although he has ruled out driving for anyone other than Hendrick. And that is why Johnson has not committed to this year being his final appearance in the Daytona 500, which he has competed in 19 times and won in 2006 and ’13.
“It’s been really a cool race to be a part of,” said Johnson. “You only dream of racing in races like this as a kid.”