DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jimmie Johnson looked to be closing in on at least a top-two finish -- if not a win -- Thursday night in his Duel at Daytona International Speedway.
But things went awry shortly after the white flag waved.
"Just aggressive racing at the end," Johnson explained.
His No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS found itself in third, drafting with the competitor in second with a big run toward the leader. But the second-place car got caught up behind the leader and attempted what Johnson called "a block gone wrong" on the outside lane.
"I could see where it was taking us -- we were going to hook bumpers and crash," he said. "I tried to get out of the hole, but it didn’t work and I kind of skipped off the wall and turned around in front of everyone."
Johnson said he didn't feel anything was intentional, he was just disappointed that it cost the No. 48 team its primary Daytona 500 car, as the team elected to move to a backup car after the incident.
"It was an aggressive move -- sometimes it works and sometimes they don’t," he said. "I’m just bummed out we lost a race car.”
Fortunately, the team -- led by crew chief Chad Knaus -- has just as much confidence in what the backup No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS will bring to the track in Sunday's Daytona 500.
“The guys were real confident about our backup selection, so I feel good about it," Johnson said. "I was asking what our strategy was (in the Duel) and if we needed to protect, and Chad of course wanted me to, but he said, ‘Go race. We’ve got a great one sitting in the truck.’
"So, we’ll take advantage of the next couple of practice sessions and dial this one in.”