Johnson salvages 13th-place finish after tire failure

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Forced to rally after a cut right-front tire ruined a potential victory, pole sitter Jimmie Johnson would make up ground in the second half of today’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway and finish 13th.

Johnson was leading the race when on Lap 76, he suffered the tire failure and hit the Turn 2 wall, causing additional bodywork damage to his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. But quick repairs on pit road helped him stay on the lead lap, and while his car had a tight condition for the rest of the afternoon, he was able to move up the pylon after falling back into the rear of the field.

The 13th-place finish even allowed Johnson to extend his Sprint Cup championship lead by two points to 77 over Clint Bowyer. Still, Johnson found himself wondering how his tire failure occurred in the first place.

“I know I lost air – there is no doubt about that,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I don’t know why. I wouldn’t think brakes, brake [temperature]… Sometimes the bead [tire] issue is relative to brake temp when you melt a bead. I don’t know I haven’t really heard much.”

According to David Caraviello of NASCAR.com, a Goodyear representative indeed said that the tire lost air through the bead but not through heat on the brakes that can cause the bead to melt. The representative also said that the tire would be further studied at Goodyear HQ in Akron, Ohio.

Johnson’s impact with the Turn 2 wall immediately after the tire failure did further not only left exterior damage on his car, but also knocked loose a spark plug wire that caused the car to run on seven cylinders. However, the 48 gang eventually managed to diagnose the problem.

“We finally figured that out and put the spark plug wire on and then the car ran good again,” he said. “And I don’t know how with all the trouble we had today that we salvaged a 13th.

“It was just a team effort. I’m very proud of everyone involved. Unfortunately, we had that flat after leading the race, but stuff happens. It’s racing.”