After leading Saturday’s practice, it looked as though Jimmie Johnson would have a strong car and contend for his second straight victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. However, that wasn’t the case as tire woes took the driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Chevrolet out of the running.
On lap 173, Johnson would blow his first tire of the day, getting into the outside turn one wall. Then 12 laps later, Johnson would blow another tire. He would then take his car behind the wall for repairs before returning to the speedway many laps down.
“The first one, they said the bead blew on it. We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft. So there could have been some damage that caused it or some rub or something like that, and it went soft going into Turn 3 and I hit the wall, unfortunately. I’m disappointed. We certainly had an awesome race car. I wish we could have won this KOBALT race in this KOBALT car, but we’ll come back next week.”
Johnson’s fate also meant a not-so-kind day for teammate Jeff Gordon as Gordon got damage in Johnson’s first incident. Jeb Burton would back off, seeing that Johnson had the problem, while Gordon didn’t. The result would be Gordon making contact with the back of Burton’s car, resulting in heavy front end damage. That damage plagued Gordon the rest of the day en route to an 18th place finish.
“I guess Jimmie (Johnson) blew a right front tire. I was right behind Jeb (Burton) getting ready to make a move on him,” Gordon commented. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to go inside or outside, but all of a sudden he started checking up and I thought he was doing it to let me go by him and I didn’t realize until right at that moment when my spotter said something to me that Jimmie was having a problem; and I ran into the back of him. It ruined our day with this 3M Chevrolet and certainly ruined the front end. Our car just wouldn’t go down the straightaway and it was real tight.”
Gordon was working to fight his way up to the front of the field after having to start at the rear due to a wreck in practice.
“Man, we were coming,” he expressed. “We had one weird set of tires. We drove up there right at the beginning and the car was amazing on rails. The next set of tires, the thing was just terrible loose. So we made an adjustment and then the car went back to being tight. So, I don’t know what happened there, but that got us off a little bit. But it was a great effort. I just can’t believe the way these days are going.”