Jimmie Johnson wrecks early at New Hampshire after tire failure

2 Comments

Jimmie Johnson started on the front row for today’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but has crashed early on Lap 13 due to a left-rear tire failure.

Prior to his crash, Johnson had been forced to abandon second on the track when he had a left-rear tire go flat under green at Lap 8. But when he got back to the pits, his Hendrick Motorsports crew started on the right side of the car instead of the left, adding to the length of the stop.

Johnson came back out 42nd and one lap off the pace, and on Lap 13, his new left-rear tire blew and sent him spinning into the Turn 1 wall. USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan passed along this bit from Johnson over the team’s radio:

“The first [tire problem], I was able to drive the car all the way through Turns 1 and 2,” Johnson told TNT. “I knew I had a flat, I got it down the back [stretch] and came in. The other one just blew on one of the straights as soon as I hit the brakes.

“I’m not sure what caused it – I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation and finger-pointing back to our team. But we’ve seen some issues here especially with that particular tire over the last couple of days.

“We’ll try to dig into it and learn more, but I can promise you one thing. It wasn’t low tire pressures. I’ve been out here for two days running around and haven’t had a flat.”

However, Goodyear official Greg Stucker has told reporters at NHMS that the 48’s two tire failures was “in a manner consistent with low inflation pressure.”

On Friday, Joey Logano suffered a left-rear tire failure in practice and crashed his primary car, reportedly sustaining a sprained wrist in the process. Then yesterday in second practice, Aric Almirola wrecked after a tire went down on him as well.

Like Logano, he is racing today in a backup car but had to start from the rear of the field since his own incident took place after qualifying.

Danica Patrick to sign off driving career at 2018 Indy 500

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With her full-time career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now coming to an end, following the end of the 2017 season this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Danica Patrick is embarking on a new path in 2018 with the two biggest 500-mile races in North America.

Patrick confirmed plans to participate in North America’s most marquee 500-mile races, the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, during a press conference today in Miami. A team for the Indianapolis 500 has not been determined, and her options for the Daytona 500 are limited to NASCAR teams with three or fewer full-time cars, because a four-car full-time team cannot enter a fifth for the Daytona 500.

Patrick ended her full-time career in IndyCar after 2011 to head to NASCAR. She drove 10 races in 2012 before her first full Cup season in 2013, where she won the pole for that year’s Daytona 500 and ultimately finished eighth.

Her Cup career has seen her finish between 24th and 28th in points with seven career top-10 finishes, all between sixth and 10th place. She ranks 27th heading into this week’s finale too.

It was her IndyCar career though where she first entered the national conversation after a few years of apprenticeship driving for Bobby Rahal’s Barber Dodge and Formula Atlantic teams. A fourth place finish in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 with a number of laps led launched her into the racing stratosphere and helped produce the Indianapolis 500’s biggest rating in years.

Ultimately her best finish in the ‘500 in seven starts was third place in 2009, behind Helio Castroneves and the late Dan Wheldon.

She won at Motegi, 2008, for her first and only win in IndyCar.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 29: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Team GoDaddy Dallara Honda, makes a pit stop during the IZOD IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

A visibly emotional Patrick announced this was the end of her full-time driving career to kick off the press conference, but switched to her future plans once she got through the opening remarks.

Patrick “never thought” she’d do the Indianapolis 500 again but when tossing around future ideas, the concept of running both Daytona and Indianapolis came up.

“I never thought I would do it. I always thought never, but I never said never. Here I am,” she said.

“Out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’ That was really the first sort of idea that got me excited. Let’s do it. I called Haley (Moore, longtime PR rep). What did I just say I would do? She said, ‘Hell yes that’s a good idea.’

“I’m still surprised.”

Patrick will need to participate in the Indianapolis 500 refresher program for drivers that aren’t full-time drivers, so that will provide her a couple hours additional track time before practice opens to the full field in mid-May.

The new 2018 Dallara universal body kit comes into being this year too, and Patrick thinks she has improved as a driver over the last six seasons to be able to come back.

“(Going) 240… it’ll be no problem,” she deadpanned. “It’ll take a bit of adjusting. It’s different for sure. But I think I’m a better driver now. It’ll take a bit of acclimating. Yeah, I would like to get in a car before I get to Indy.”

Patrick said running the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 “could” occur with her same teams she last ran with full-time, Stewart-Haas Racing and Andretti Autosport, respectively. But her options remain open for both.