Johnson, Kahne to a backup cars after happy hour crashes in Michigan

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne will each go to backup cars for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 after crashing in final practice.

Johnson, 41, was maneuvering his way through Turn 2 of the two-mile Michigan oval when he lost control of his No. 48 Chevrolet, spinning up the track and bouncing off of the outside wall.

The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was unhurt in the incident, but the heavy damage sustained forced his Hendrick Motorsports team to a backup car for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

“Just lost it on corner entry getting into Turn 1,” Johnson said. “The first lap at speed and the thing just rotated around. The effort level is high and you’ve got to run in there committed.  I did so and unfortunately the rear grip just wasn’t there in the car and around it came.”

Due to the move to a backup car, Johnson will start at the tail end of the field in Sunday’s race. It will be the sixth time Johnson has started a race at the back of the field this year, and the second-straight time he’s been forced to do it a Michigan following the June race. Johnson also rolled off at the tail-end of the field at Daytona, Texas, Dover and Indianapolis, two of the which (Texas and Dover) ended in victories.

Kahne suffered a similar fate just moments after his teammate’s crash, getting into the outside wall with his No. 5 Chevrolet.

The damage for Kahne wasn’t as severe as Johnson’s, but it proved enough to force the Enumclaw, Washington native to a backup car.

“We actually up to that point I had never had any tendencies of loose there at all,” Kahne said. “It was kind of interesting, made a change, came back out and I was coming into (Turn) 1 I basically lost my right-rear and was spinning as I was getting into the corner just sideways.

“Saved it, but then I was just going too fast and I got up in the gray and it went up and ended up running into the wall.  So, it was kind of out of nowhere.  I was a bit surprised that happened.  Our Liftmaster Chevrolet has been pretty close this morning and thought it was about the same the first run and then that happened on the second run.”

Kahne will join Johnson at the back of the field to begin Sunday’s race due to the move to a backup car. The 37-year-old is already effectively locked into the playoffs courtesy of his victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Only in the instance of three new winners in the final four races or a missed race could Kahne be eliminated.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also made contact with the wall in the session, but continued on with minimal damage.

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