Standing outside the infield care center at Daytona International Speedway, the consummate professional Jimmie Johnson maintained a stoic composure as he told Jamie Little of FOX Sports the events, from his point of view, that led him to wrecking out of his seventh consecutive Advance Auto Parts Clash.
“Yeah, I got turned,” he said. “(Kyle) Larson and I were just talking about that in the Care Center. I need to go back and look at the video and see if he really did get me center and if that could have been a contributing factor to it. A lap before that, I think the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) got into me and pushed me pretty hard and everything was fine. So, in my head I cleared that concern and was looking out the windshield sitting in a great spot, but unfortunately didn’t make it back.”
Johnson was the main pinball of a five-car wreck on the backstretch on the final lap of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash. It started when Kyle Larson, carrying a run off Turn 2, hit Johnson square in the back, which got him loose and slowing veering toward the outside wall. Larson hit him again in his right-rear corner panel, hooking him into the outside wall.
“Yeah, that’s the first time I’ve went to push somebody and I hit him pretty solid and just turned him into the wall,” Larson said. “I hate that I was the one that caused the wreck. I still haven’t seen a replay. Obviously, I know I’m the one that started that, but I’d just like to see if I did hit him as hard as I think I did, or what. Or if our bumpers just don’t line up as well with the new Camaros, or what. But, I hate that I was the one to do that. Our DC Solar Chevy was a handful all race and it was, even in practice yesterday. So, we have a lot of work to do to just get it driving stable enough for me to run 500 miles next Sunday. It was a tough race, I guess. I felt on-edge the whole time. So, I’ve got some work to do.”
From that moment on, calamity ensued.
Larson made contact with Johnson a third time, which spun him into the outside wall. Kyle Busch received damage from running into Johnson’s right-rear, but he completed the remaining mile and a quarter of the race. Kasey Kahne, either because he was hit by Johnson’s spinning car or he veered to the left to avoid hitting him, was t-boned by Chase Elliott, who dove onto the apron to avoid the wrecking cars in the higher lane.
“Yeah, we had a good car, just the circumstances, the way the top kind of formed up there it just happened to be we were on the bottom at the time,” Elliott said. “I thought our car was as good as anybody’s. I mean I don’t really know what I would have done a whole lot different to change the circumstance, but happens and luckily next week is the important one.”
Martin Truex Jr., while he didn’t hit a car, spun out on the grass trying to avoid the spinning cars.
Busch came out the best of the cars involved with a seventh-place finish, Larson finished 10th, Johnson finished 12th, Elliott finished 13th, Truex finished 14th and Kahne finished 15th.