A pair of early tire failures ended Jimmie Johnson's race after just 11 laps Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
On Lap 8 Johnson pitted unexpectedly with a left-rear tire flat. The defending Sprint Cup champion returned to the track but crashed when another left-rear tire issue occurred three laps later. The damage was extensive and Johnson will finish 42nd in the Camping World RV Sales 301.
"The first (tire failure) I was able to drive the car all the way through Turns 1 and 2," Johnson said. "I knew I had a flat and then got down the back and came in. The other one just blew on the straight as soon as I hit the brakes."
Problems with tires have plagued Johnson and the No. 48 team throughout the season.
Johnson was leading and nearing certain victory when a tire exploded with two laps remaining in March at Auto Club Speedway. Another tire issue hampered him at Bristol Motor Speedway, and caused contention between crew chief Chad Knaus and Goodyear. Knaus cited extreme tire wear while Goodyear said the 48 was running a chassis setup which put too much stress on the right-front tire.
Johnson said Sunday's crash was not due to low air pressure but something else, though he was uncertain what exactly.
"I can promise you one thing, it wasn't due to low left rear tire pressure, which is what a lot of people are speculating," Johnson said. "We've been here for two days running and I had no issues. It's unfortunate, regardless. And then you can look at the second tire and think that maybe some damage was done from the first tire that caused the second one to go so quickly. That's a good argument but I just don't know at this point."
Left-rear tire failures contributed to Joey Logano and Aric Almirola crashing in practice Friday and Saturday, respectively. In both incidents low air pressure were cited as the culprit.