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Jimmie Johnson will go to a backup car for the Daytona 500. (Photo: Getty Images)

Early Duel Exit for Johnson, Almirola

Jimmie Johnson and Aric Almirola each exited the first Can-Am Duel early after an incident coming out of the Daytona International Speedway tri-oval on Lap 8 and as a result both will have to go to backup cars for the Daytona 500.

As the field raced past the start-finish line, Johnson had a tire go down on his No. 48 Chevrolet and he made contact with the No. 10 Ford of Almirola, resulting in heavy damage to both cars. Johnson, who was running sixth at the time, dropped down to the low line before the tire went flat and his car turned into Almirola’s Ford.

“The car started to shake a little bit entering the tri-oval,” Johnson said. “That is why I pulled down. I was kind of shocked that I had the shake, and knew it was that soft tire shake coming from the right side. As I entered the tri-oval, it finally went flat and hooked me around and into to Aric unfortunately. Terrible way to start.”

Almirola is making his debut this week in the No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

“Jimmie blew a right-rear tire and just came across the race track,” Almirola said. “There was nothing I could do. I saw him pull out of line. I thought he was just checking up but he came back across the track. It is disappointing. Not the way I wanted to start Speedweeks with our Smithfield Ford Fusion but we will get another car out and get ready for the rest of the weekend. The beauty of it is that it is just the 150’s and it wasn’t the Daytona 500.”