Jimmie Johnson Takes A Wild Ride At Michigan

Jimmie Johnson will have to start Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway from the back of the field after crashing his car in practice on Saturday. Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Saturday morning’s first practice ended early for Jimmie Johnson.

Two laps after posting his best time of the session, Johnson lost control of his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the middle of turns 3 and 4 at Michigan International Speedway.

As the car spun, the seven-time champion was able to keep it away from the outside wall, but the No. 48 shot toward the infield, and the splitter dug into the grass as soon as the car left the asphalt.

Johnson’s first inclination was that his car was damaged severely enough to require a backup, but after he drove the Chevy back to the garage, crew chief Chad Knaus opted to try to repair the primary entry.

“I got loose into turn 3 and fought it for a long time and unfortunately came around,” Johnson said of the accident. “Did a nice job of keeping it off the outside wall, but came back down the hill and into the grass and the front end dug in pretty good.

“I’m pretty surprised the guys feel like the damage isn’t too bad, and they can get that stuff pulled back out and get the shape of the body back. So we’re out for the rest of this practice and we’ll get back on track for the second one. Not the way we wanted to start the day, but it is what it is.”

Not so fast. After working on the car during the NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying session, Knaus ultimately decided that it wasn’t feasible to repair the primary car.

Accordingly, the No. 48 team rolled out the backup, and Johnson will have to start from the rear in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 because of the post-qualifying car change.

In the backup, Johnson was ninth fastest in final practice.

Ryan Reed On Standby As Trevor Bayne Waits For Baby

With Trevor Bayne’s wife Ashton expecting the couple’s second child—perhaps as early as this weekend—NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Reed is on standby as a possible substitute for Bayne in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan.

Toward that end, Reed ran three laps in his fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver’s Ford Fusion during Friday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, just in case he has to get behind the wheel of the No. 6 Ford in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

Reed is currently sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, but he’s not a complete novice in a Cup car. Reed started 18th and finished 26th in an RFR Ford last fall at Talladega, but should he have to fill in for Bayne on Sunday, this would be his first trip at an open-motor track.

Bayne was 20th fastest in Saturday’s first practice session and 19th in final practice.

Short Strokes

-His car may be blue, but Martin Truex, Jr. isn’t. With a lap at 198.385 mph, Truex topped the speed chart in Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. Truex is running the light blue Auto-Owners Insurance paint scheme this weekend. The last time he represented that sponsor, Truex won at Kansas.

-Late in Saturday’s final practice, Brad Keselowski surged to the top of the board with a lap at 197.401 mph. Team Penske teammate Joey Logano was fourth fastest. Those two drivers left the track considerably happier than A.J. Allmendinger, who clobbered the wall near the exit from turn 2 in the final minute of practice. “Did he kill it?” crew chief Ernie Cope radioed to spotter Coleman Pressley. The team immediately opted for a backup car, and maybe that’s a good thing. Allmendinger was 28th fastest in final practice.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Michigan International Speedway – Brooklyn, MI
FireKeepers Casino 400 – June 18, 2017

Sunday’s Starting Lineup

1. Kyle Larson
2. Martin Truex, Jr.
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Kyle Busch
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Joey Logano
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Chase Elliott
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Brad Keselowski
13. Jimmie Johnson
14. Erik Jones
15. Kurt Busch
16. Kasey Kahne
17. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
18. Austin Dillon
19. Ryan Newman
20. Daniel Suarez
21. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
22. Michael McDowell
23. Danica Patrick
24. Chris Buescher
25. A.J. Allmendinger
26. Darrell Wallace, Jr.
27. Trevor Bayne
28. Matt DiBenedetto
29. David Ragan
30. Paul Menard
31. Ryan Sieg
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Cole Whitt
34. Reed Sorenson
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
36. Landon Cassill
37. Ty Dillon


About Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service