By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When you think of big crashes and lots of torn up sheet metal, typically the tracks that come to mind are Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
However, on Thursday night, it was Kansas Speedway serving up some carnage — and shaking up the Playoff standings as a result.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway included not one, not two, but three multi-car accidents, one of which brought out the red flag for a few minutes.
The biggest crash occurred on lap 177 and collected five cars. One of those cars belonged to seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson entered the Kansas race in a precarious position. With eight races left in the regular season, the 44-year-old driver was clinging to 16th in the points, the final spot available in the postseason. With 2020 being Johnson’s final full-time season, and paired with his Hall of Fame worth career, it just wouldn’t be right if the No. 48 team didn’t at least have the opportunity to contend for one more title with their driver.
Unfortunately, that goal was made much more difficult on Thursday. After Joey Logano ran into some trouble in turn two, Johnson was caught up in the ensuing melee and sustained some damage. While Johnson was able to continue for a while after the team made repairs, the No. 48 was eventually forced to retire from the race for failing to make the minimum speed. Johnson would be credited with a 32nd-place finish.
Just one of those racing deals… I didn’t have anywhere to go. https://t.co/zLsJgPTB3h
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) July 24, 2020
With his seventh consecutive finish outside the top 10, Johnson fell three spots in the standings and is now 18 points outside of the final Playoff berth, which now belongs to Matt DiBenedetto.
All hope is not lost. Johnson has won at all of the remaining tracks on the regular season schedule, other than the Daytona International Speedway road course, which will be a new undertaking for everyone.
However, with mediocre performances and a heavy dose of bad luck this season, it certainly seems like making the Playoffs in his final season will be an uphill battle for a team and driver that was once unstoppable.