Johnson Explains Qualifying Crash
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 12, 2016 | 11:23 A.M. EST
“I am completely shocked that is happened to me. Out of racing on four wheels my entire life I’ve always had a wheel that has come on and off, I’ve never had this happen.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson’s steering wheel came off to cause his accident during Friday’s qualifying session at Phoenix International Raceway.
Johnson hit the wall with severe impact during the frightening crash that he walked away from uninjured. However the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion was visibly shaken by the experience.
On Saturday at PIR, Johnson provided details on what caused the incident.
“Yeah, as I came into Turn 1 just working my way through the center of the corner and jumped in the gas and as I jumped in the gas, I guess I pull on the wheel when I do that,” he said. “As I pulled on the wheel it just came off in my hands. So, I was just sitting there with no steering and holding the steering wheel staring at the blue wall and I was along for the ride at that point.”
Originally it was thought a mechanical malfunction or tire failure was the culprit for sending Johnson into the wall.
“I didn’t want to falsely blame something or someone or whatever the situation may be,” Johnson said about not having complete details to share Friday. “Honestly, its such a delicate topic I just wanted to be able to talk to my crew guys and look through everything first before it became national news. Even last night it was very difficult to find out what the cause was because of the tight time frame trying to get the back-up car out. This morning the picture is crystal clear what happened. I just didn’t get the wheel locked on.”
Johnson, who will start Sunday’s race in a back-up car, took complete blame for the incident.
“This is on me,” he said. “I am completely shocked that is happened to me. Out of racing on four wheels my entire life I’ve always had a wheel that has come on and off, I’ve never had this happen. I’ve seen it happen to others and I’ve thought ‘how in the world does that happen’, well it just happened to me. It’s just a freak thing.”