Jimmie Johnson’s run of never missing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs came to an end Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Johnson came into Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard 18 points out of the final spot in the playoff race. He was battling for position on a lap 105 restart when his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron made contact with Johnson’s car sending him on a spin up into the outside wall. Before it was over eight other drivers were in some way involved in the multi-car crash and Johnson’s car was too severely damaged to continue.
"The 1 car (Kurt Busch) had a little trouble on the restart," Johnson explained of the accident. "I’m on the inside going into the corner and it was just super tight so unfortunate that happened. Certainly not what we needed on that restart. I couldn’t go below the white line and kind of got snipped there and turned around; and around and round we go."
It marks the first time since the Playoff format was introduced in 2004 that Johnson will not have an opportunity to run for the championship.
"It’s really disappointing," said Johnson. "Unfortunately we had a bad 25 races that led to the position we were in here today. We needed a stellar day and I think we were having a strong day. Just really proud of my team and where we are at and what’s been going on.
"Disappointed, honestly, when you look at the record we set, I don’t think anyone will make 16 consecutive playoffs. That’s a record to be proud of."
Despite the frustration, Johnson is determined to not end the season with another winless campaign as he did a year ago. Johnson has not won a Cup race since Dover in 2017.
"The goal is to win a race this team is getting stronger each and every week," he said. "(Crew chief) Cliff Daniels is doing an amazing job leading this group. We are ready to roll so we will dust ourselves are off, go to Vegas and try to get a trophy."