JOHNSON PLEASED WITH RESULT AFTER LATE-RACE DAMAGE
After an 11th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson praised the work of the No. 48 team all evening long.
“We had a really good race,” Johnson said. “I got stuck on the inside on a lot of restarts, which kind of affected our progress. But we would drive up to the top three, top five and at the end there something happened with the back of the car and I lost it going into Turn 1 and hit the wall with like 30 to go, and somehow still finished 11th.”
The contact with the wall, he noted, caused major damage to the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. The fact that the team was able to salvage the 11th-place result gave him a positive outlook moving forward.
“I got really lucky to finish,” he said, “but a strong effort – very good race car.”
ELLIOTT EXPLAINS INCIDENT
With a little more than 100 laps remaining in Saturday night’s race, Elliott and competitor Kevin Harvick made contact that sent the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS spinning toward the inside wall.
“That was just a racing incident with Kevin,” Elliott explained. “We were just working lap traffic and he and I had been racing really hard back and forth with each other and I kind of go to his inside and he was setting up to pass the guy on exit.”
The damage sent Elliott to pit road, where quick work by the No. 24 team allowed him to return to the track down just one lap. Still, it made it tough for the driver to recover back into the top 10, where he had been running for much of the race.
“(Harvick) had been running the top and he just didn’t know I was down there,” Elliott said. “I had a really good Turn 1 and 2. He just didn’t know. I shouldn’t have stuck my nose in there, I guess.”
EARNHARDT BATTLES HANDLING
In his final race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the handling of his No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS caused problems throughout the evening.
“We struggled,” he said. “We had a real fast car for like 10 to 15 laps and then we would just get real, real tight, so we struggled all day trying to figure it out.”
The driver noted that even after passing multiple cars early in a run, he would begin to fall back in the pack due to the car’s handling.
“We’ve got a lot of tools on pit road to really get after it, but the problems we had we couldn’t fix with wedge or trackbar,” he said.
Still, he noted that the track – and particularly the night race – is one of his favorites on the entire schedule, and he nevertheless enjoyed his final trip as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver.
“This racetrack can be a lot of fun, and it can be very difficult,” he said. “There is never really any middle ground.”