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:
Jimmie Johnson after crashing: "That one exploded on me." One of many tire problems this year. Confirms it's left rear. #nascar
“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.”
Two races remain in the 2019 Supercross season and the handwriting is on the wall. Cooper Webb’s magic number is now five; all he needs to do in the final two races is finish fifth or better. Since he has finished worse than that only twice this year – and not since Week 5 in San Diego – it’s a fair assumption that he will keep his momentum alive through the end of the season.
Webb’s competition is not going to let up, however. Last week in Denver, Eli Tomac won his second consecutive race after Webb got off to a slow start. There was a glimmer of hope while Webb was outside the top five on Lap 1, but the points leader meticulously picked off the competition and settled into second. Third in the standings, Marvin Musquin finished third to keep his title hopes alive as well.
But this is Supercross. Anything can happen. Just two weeks ago in the 250 class, Austin Forkner tweaked a knee and failed to start the Feature in Nashville. His one-race cushion evaporated in an instant and his advantage over the field is only three points with two races remaining in that division.
Two weeks ago at Nashville, Tyler Enticknap and Ronnie Stewart crashed hard and will be missing from the New Jersey lineup.
In 250s, it took an injury for the field to catch up to Forkner. He’ll be back in competition this week and forced to answer the question of whether he is in full form after undergoing therapy on his knee for the past three weeks. Since none of the 250 East riders have beaten him on the track, the answer would seem to be a simple one.
But now the competition senses weakness which is likely to be compounded by Forkner’s propensity to struggle in practice and qualification. Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper have been racking up top-fives, but now they need to step up and win. If either rider can do that this week in New Jersey or next week in the East/West Showdown in Vegas, that should allow him to snatch the championship away from 2019’s dominator.