Jimmie Johnson’s Chase for Eight postponed to 2018 after Phoenix crash

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Jimmie Johnson’s quest for a record-setting eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will have to wait for another year.

Johnson, 42, was maneuvering his No. 48 Chevrolet around the 1.022-mile Phoenix Raceway on Sunday when a cut right-front tire sent him into the outside wall.

The heavy right-front damage from the incident brought Johnson’s day to an end after 148 of the scheduled 312 laps.

“I really didn’t have any warning,” Johnson said of his cut tire. “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.

“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.”

The crash brought an end to Johnson’s first attempt at an eighth Cup Series title. The Californian entered Sunday’s Can-Am 500 eighth in the championship standings, 51 points outside of the Championship 4 cutoff and in need of a victory to keep his title hopes alive to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I’m disappointed for sure,” Johnson said of his elimination. “The last couple of months we’ve been staying alive and at this stage with the Round of 8 and then the Round of 4, you can’t just stay alive. You’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders and we just haven’t been there, unfortunately. Again, I’m very thankful for all the hard work that’s gone into this and all the efforts from (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the team, but we just can’t get there right now.”

His title quest eliminated, Johnson will set his sights on a victory at Homestead. The Hendrick Motorsports veteran earned his first-career victory at the track last season to claim his seventh Cup Series title.

The full audio from Johnson’s post-crash interview can be found below.

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