Johnson, Earnhardt Jr’s Early Contender Round Hopes Hit the Wall

Johnson, Earnhardt Jr’s Early Contender Round Hopes Hit the Wall

by October 5, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. got their respective Contender Rounds off on the wrong foot in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Both drivers would encounter issues that would take them out of contention early on in the race.

Johnson would find trouble first on Lap 86 when he would get hit on the right side by an oversteering Greg Biffle and would be sent towards the inside wall on the backstretch, hitting hard with the right side of the car.

The No. 48 Lowe’s crew would be able to repair the car enough to get Johnson back out on the track to log some more laps as Johnson would go on to finish in the 40th position with 180 laps completed.

Looking ahead to the final two races of the Contender Round at Charlotte and Talladega, Johnson knows that he and his team will need to be

“Well, it just means we’ve got to be on our game at Charlotte and Talladega,” Johnson said while his crew were repairing his car. “There is still a lot of racing left. Stuff can happen. We’ll see how the other Chasers fare. If I can get taken out today, somebody else can later in this event or at Charlotte.

“We’ll do our best to get on track and then certainly need W’s, I would assume, going forward.”

Earnhardt’s day wouldn’t go much better as he would finish 39th after pancaking the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet into the Turn 4 wall while leading on Lap 123 due to a tire that was going down. Like Johnson, Earnhardt’s crew would manage to repair his wounded car enough to get it back out on the race track with Earnhardt completing a total of 204 laps.

When asked to explain what happened to his car, Earnhardt offered the following.

“I was going into Turn 3 and the surface of the tire unwound all the way across the surface,” Earnhardt said. “And I don’t know; just the whole surface of the tire unwound like a string. It just came off the tire and it popped off the corner. I felt it coming apart through the corner and the surface of the tire is gone. The whole cap off.”

Earnhardt acknowledges that he’s now in the same boat as his teammate in terms of his points situation and that he’ll have to win at either Charlotte or Talladega.

“Yeah, the points – it’s going to hurt,” he said. “It is what it is. We just have to go to the next race and try to win.”

Teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne would also have brief brushes with the wall but both drivers would continue on to respective 14th and 22nd-place finishes.

Earnhardt and Johnson now respectively sit in the 11th and 12th positions in the Chase standings with two races to go until the next elimination. Earnhardt currently sits 25 points behind the cutoff and Johnson sits 27 markers behind the cutoff.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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