Loudon, NH (SportsNetwork.com) - Six-time and defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson had his race end early at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday when he suffered a blown tire and then crashed into the wall.
Johnson, who started this 301-lap race in second, experienced a flat left-rear tire on lap 7, forcing him to pit and dropping him one lap behind in 42nd.
Then on lap 14, Johnson's left-rear tire blew, sending him hard into the wall along the backstretch. He was not injured during the incident.
"The first [flat tire] I was able to drive the car all the way through turns 1 and 2 and knew I had a flat and then came in," Johnson said. "The other one just blew on the straight as soon as I hit the brakes. I'm not sure what caused it. I'm sure there will be a lot of speculation, and I'm sure finger pointing back to our team.
"But we've seen some issues here, especially with that particular tire the last couple of days. We'll try to learn more about it."
Other drivers have experienced tires problems throughout the weekend at this flat 1.058-mile track. Joey Logano had failure with his left-rear tire and crashed into the wall during Friday's practice, forcing him to a backup car. Aric Almirola, who won his first career Sprint Cup race last week at Daytona, also had to switch to a backup car for this event when he wrecked due to a tire issue in Saturday's practice.
"It's just a bummer," Johnson added. "I'm expecting people to quickly point back at the team and say it's our fault. I guess if it is, then we'll accept it. But the car was fast, and we had a great day in qualifying [on Friday]. It's just unfortunate that we're out early."
Johnson also had his race at Daytona come to an end early when he was involved in a 16-car crash. He finished 42nd there. With a series-leading three wins this season, Johnson is assured of making this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He came to New Hampshire third in the point standings.