DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Jimmie Johnson had an interesting Daytona Speedweeks. It all started off with a win in last Sunday’s Clash, but that victory didn’t come without controversy.
Johnson, got into the side of Paul Menard on Lap 55 of the rain shortened event sparking a 17 car melee behind. Rain fell shortly after as Johnson was declared the winner of the rain shortened event after Lap 59 of 75.
Then, in his Duel on Thursday night, Johnson got into Kyle Busch on Lap 25. Busch, like Menard, blamed Johnson and was mad at his after.
Johnson’s phone got a workout leading up to Sunday’s 61st annual Daytona 500 because of all the people he made mad this past week.
His Speedweeks though, ended just as fitting.
On Lap 158, Johnson was hitting pit road for what he thought was the final time of the race. Instead, he was hit from behind by Tyler Reddick in a bizarre chain reaction crash coming onto pit road. Teammates Cody Ware and BJ McLeod made contact with one another at pit entry which sent them into Reddick. Then, Reddick’s No. 31 Chevrolet got airborne into Johnson’s left rear quarter panel of his No. 48 Chevrolet.
It badly damaged Johnson’s car. It was to a point where most thought he couldn’t continue. His fuel cell was hanging out of his car. All the sheet metal was gone. How could they fuel his car?
The team worked hard to fix the repairs and when they got it to being good enough, they were hit with a two lap penalty for an illegal fueling infraction.
With 100 miles left, Johnson was two laps down with a badly damaged race car. Luckily for him, a debris caution flew on Lap 173, giving him a lap back. Then, on Lap 180, Kyle Larson spun in Turn 3. With 20 laps-to-go, Johnson was back on the lead lap. 10 laps later, he was collected in a 18 car melee in Turn 3.
His car wasn’t as damaged as everyone else’s as he continued on still. After two more crashes, neither Johnson being involved in, he somehow rebounded to finish ninth. It was his first top 10 finish in a points paying race at Daytona since 2014.