Jimmie Johnson led the most laps in Sunday’s GEICO 500 and his pit crew consistently got him off pit road first each time.
Johnson had a chance to win late, but it was not to be. It has been that kind of season for the reigning Sprint Cup series champion.
Johnson got shuffled back in the field during the first two-lap overtime and ended up 24th when a victory was pretty much the only way he was going to advance to Round 3 of the Chase.
“We had a fast, fast Chevrolet today. Disappointed we didn’t advance, but truthfully the way the last two races went, today was an opportunity for us,” Johnson said. “We were kind of playing with house money and just didn’t get it done.”
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Johnson said the new Chase format allowed him an opportunity to try to earn a record-tying seventh series title, even with poor finishes the past two weeks.
“I’m definitely disappointed, but we’ll dig in deep and finish up the year strong and look forward to 2015,” he said.
Johnson joins his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch as the drivers eliminated from title contention following Sunday’s race.
Earnhardt and Busch were caught up in wrecks. Kahne finished a respectable 12th, but because Brad Keselowski won, Jeff Gordon took the final position on points.
Earnhardt who got caught up in a five-car wreck on Lap 189 during the first overtime.
“I still really don’t know (what happened). I haven’t had a chance to look at it. Got with (Greg Biffle) a little bit,” he said. “I don’t know if I came down on him or what. I thought I was holding my line, but we were all kind of tight back there.”
The season began with Earnhardt winning his second Daytona 500, and he has enjoyed his most successful season since joining Hendrick.
It will not end in a first championship, however.
Asked his thoughts on the year, Earnhardt said, “The race is over; it’s time to go home.”