In his final NASCAR season, Jimmie Johnson found himself in the lead; Crashed while leading on the final lap of stage 1
For 10 weeks, NASCAR drivers have sat on the sidelines. After 71 days without racing, the drivers have unloaded at Darlington Raceway.
The race is currently underway. It’s the fifth race of the season.
Jimmie Johnson resumes his final season. In his 20th year with the sport, the 44-year-old is set to hang up the helmet at season’s end.
Drivers hit the track with no practice or qualifying runs. The field was set by a random draw.
The green dropped and Keselowski jumped out to the early lead.
A competition caution fell on lap 31 and the field was frozen. It allowed teams to make extended chassis adjustments without losing any positions.
As the race resumed, Johnson was looking for the lead from Keselowski. While attempting to make the pass, Johnson lost momentum. His teammate, Alex Bowman worked around him to take over 2nd.
Soon after, Bowman went for the lead on Keselowski. He completed that pass and Johnson followed him through.
As Bowman drove away from the field, Johnson was riding comfortably in 2nd.
Jimmie Johnson to the lead
With 10 laps to go in stage one, Johnson had a run on Bowman for the lead. He took it and completed the pass into turn three. Bowman attempted to take it back but Johnson threw a big block. Bowman knocked on Johnson’s rear bumper but Johnson held the lead.
There’s no fans in the stands today. But, Johnson has become a fan favorite and they surely cheered him on from their living rooms.
Johnson drove away as Bowman dropped through the field. With 3 laps remaining in stage one, Johnson was wheeling the heck out of his car. Sawing on the wheel, Byron and Hamlin were closing quickly.
On the final lap of stage one, Johnson looked to the inside of Chris Buescher to put him a lap down. Buescher ran wide off turn two and was forced to check up.
Johnson closed to his bumper in a hurry and tagged him in the left rear. The race leader slid toward the inside wall and made heavy impact with the inside wall.
William Byron took the stage one win.
Jimmie Johnson comments on the crash
“Gosh, what I would do to get that corner back. To do it over again,” Johnson told FOX Sports as he shook his head.
“Coming to the end of the stage. Just trying to make sure I got a good run off of turn two. I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side by side with him and things just went horribly wrong there.”
“What a great car. I feel terrible for my team. We got great race cars and things are coming in the right direction. Things just really didn’t turn off good, off turn two.”