Good Day Goes Sour for Jimmie Johnson

by Tucker White On Sun, Sep. 18, 2016

Jimmie Johnson led the most laps of any driver in Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, only to have a speeding penalty rob him of a chance of victory at Chicagoland Speedway. Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson showed the world that he was ready to fight for his seventh championship this season with a dominant drive in the Windy City, and then it turned sour.

The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was on pit road when the caution flew for the first time on lap 49. He beat race leader Martin Truex Jr. to the start/finish line to stay on the lead lap. As an added bonus, he opted not to pit under the caution and assumed the race lead.

For the next 130 laps, Johnson had the field in check. He led a race-high of 118 laps and only lost the lead when he pitted during cycles of green flag pit stops. A caution in between didn’t throw him off his game and he just kept on trucking.

It was nearing the final quarter of the race, however, when he lost control of the race to teammate Chase Elliott on lap 182.

He remained near the front running in the top-five coming to the final round of green flag stops with around 30 to go. After he made his pit stop, he was black-flagged for speeding on pit road and assessed a pass-through penalty.

He rejoined the race down a lap.

A caution with five laps to go put him back on the lead lap and he came home 12th.

“Yeah, very proud of this Lowe’s team, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” Johnson said. “We are digging. I’m just… I just can’t believe I got in trouble down there leaving the pits. I feel terrible for these guys. It should have been a top-five day, but I will back down on pit road even more and try not to make that mistake. Hats off to the team for our fast Lowe’s Chevrolet, I just screwed up.”

The 118 laps he led were the most he led in a race this season.

To add insult to injury, Johnson’s car failed post-race LIS inspection. Any penalty resulting from this will be announced on Wednesday.

Johnson tentatively leaves Chicagoland eighth in points trailing Truex by 13 points.

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