NASCAR Cup Series

Jimmie Johnson Left Frustrated Following Late-Race Contact with Brad Keselowski

By: Ashley McCubbin

Jimmie Johnson saw the potential to challenge for a win in his last full-time season of NASCAR Cup Series competition, until contact with Brad Keselowski sent him sliding through the infield grass.

As they came to the restart with 27 laps to go, Johnson was behind Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick from the third position. Keselowski, from fifth, got a run as they went through the tri-oval, diving underneath the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet. Johnson came down slightly as Keselowski got there, resulting in contact, with Johnson sliding through the grass.

Credited with an 18th-place finish, it just seems to add the rhetoric this year in there being speed, but continued incidents, whether contact or strategy, hindering Johnson’s performance, Notably, he has not scored a top-10 in the last five straight events, with just two in the previous 10 races.

Following the event, the seven-time Champion shared his thoughts on Twitter, stating he was looking forward to his next restart behind Keselowski.

Upon the contact happening on-track, Keselowski called the incident ridiculous over his radio, adding, “He run me off the race track. I don’t run people off the race track like that.”

Though in speaking to the media, he said it was a racing incident occurring through the current restart product.

“All race long, not just that restart, the third and fourth-place guys while they’re pushing if you don’t push, your lane doesn’t go, but then the car behind you gets a huge run on you, and that makes it tough,” the ninth-place finisher said. “That’s what happened to me on the last restart.  I was fourth and I was pushing Kevin and Cole (Custer) used his run to get to the outside and ultimately win the race.  I didn’t block it because it was just too much of a run, pretty similar to what happened with Jimmie is I had a huge from fifth.

“They took off.  They launched together, the inside lane (Ryan) Blaney and Jimmie, and they stretched and then they started to slow down and as they slowed down I just had a huge run and I made a move to the inside.  I was turning down towards the grass.  I might have had a foot or two, but I couldn’t go much lower, and I don’t know if he was trying to turn down to block me or if he was trying to turn down to get underneath Blaney, but he turned down and I was too far forward.  There was kind of unavoidable contact at that time. ”

While stating he hated to have ruined Johnson’s day, he doesn’t see how he could have done anything different.

“If I stayed in line and just pushed him, I was gonna get gobbled like I did on the last restart, so just part of the mayhem with these restarts,” he added. “I hate that we had control of the race and just didn’t have enough speed to keep it because I feel like we could have brought this race home.  We had a really good car on restarts, but we just didn’t have the speed to keep the lead and fell back to third there and got ate up on the restart.  That part is kind of a bummer, but it was just restart mayhem.  Double-file restarts.  Everybody knows that the only real chance you have to pass is on a restart and it’s a give-and-take fest.”

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