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Jimmie Johnson lined up 16th on Monday for the rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway, and he encountered several issues within the first 12 laps. First, he had an issue with the hood flaps on his No. 48 Lowe’s Spring Is Calling Chevrolet SS; a result of running alongside the jet dryer during the race-opening laps, which were held under caution.
On Lap 12, Johnson was nearby when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the grass and made hard contact with the wall. Debris from the incident apparently affected the windshield and nose of Johnson’s Chevy SS. Crew chief Chad Knaus addressed the damage with a new nose and significant other repairs, before sending Johnson to restart at the tail of the field.
Back on track, Johnson was making his forward march when he ran over something on the track causing his right rear tire to go down. Johnson made an unscheduled pit stop for fresh tires, fuel and further adjustments before returning to the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval. He was two laps down at this point.
As the race unfolded, Johnson earned back one lap and was running 27th by Lap 138 and two laps down. Johnson picked up another lap by Lap 271 and was running 25th, but a long green-flag stretch ultimately required the No. 48 team to make a stop. With the laps ticking down at Texas, Knaus asked Johnson to save as much fuel as possible to stretch their fuel window. Johnson held on to finish 25th.
ON THE DAY:
"The Lowe's team gave me a great car today. It's kind of surreal what happened. Junior hit the grass there and something off his car like a splitter or something just destroyed my windshield and then something hit the nose of the car too. We were in a good position and were running decent lap times when the right rear blew. I'm glad Junior is alright and hats off to my guys today. We played around with some strategy at the end. They never gave up."
WHAT HAPPENED EARLY IN THE RACE WHEN DEBRIS HIT YOUR CAR?
“When (Dale Earnhardt) Junior when through the grass, it kicked up all this debris and mud. It ripped the windshield and ripped the left front.
“DID YOU FEEL LIKE IT DID A LOT OF DAMAGE AT THE TIME?
“There was a lot of noise. And I saw his car and then I instantly lost vision. I felt a couple of hard hits on my car and I knew that we had some damage. But I still think we were overcoming that. We recovered and had a fast car and we were okay, and then I don’t know if I ran something over on the track or what, but something really big hit the bottom-side of my car and that, I think, punctured our right rear tire. We had to come to pit road after that. And then we lost a couple of laps due to that. It was a day of bad luck. We had a fast race car, so there was a little silver lining in it, but it was a terrible finish.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHES:Jeff Gordon 2nd, Kasey Kahne 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr, 43rd
NEXT UP: Darlington Raceway, Saturday April 12that 6:30pm ET on FOX/MRN