Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is in the final full-time season of his career, and he has hopes of going out with a record-breaking title. Winning during The Real Heroes 400 on Sunday would have helped him in this quest, but Johnson's day ended early. He crashed in the closing moments of Stage 1 and was knocked out of the race.
The incident occurred on Turn 2 of Darlington Raceway. Johnson was moments away from securing the Stage 1 win but his car collided with another vehicle. He was lapping the No. 18 Ford driven by Chris Buescher but tapped the rear panel. This hit sent Johnson into a spin, where he collided with a wall.
Johnson spoke with FOX Sports following the accident and said that he "feels terrible" for his team. He said that the car was running great and that he wished he had done something differently in order to avoid the collision. He was very disappointed about the way his day ended, especially after leading in the final laps of Stage 1.
"Gosh, what I would do to get that corner back," Johnson said. "To do it over again. Coming to the end of the stage and just trying to make sure I got a good run off of Turn 2. I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side-by-side with him [Buescher], and things just went horribly wrong there. What a great car. I feel terrible for my team, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports."
While Johnson was forced from the race, William Byron secured the Stage 1 win. He was fighting for the top spot but would not have been able to catch Johnson prior to the end of the lap. However, the wreck opened a path for him to take the win and start Stage 2 with the lead.
The veteran driver in Johnson entered Sunday's race sitting in fifth place overall in the 2020 Cup Series Standings. He hasn't won a race during the season but has still accrued points with his driving. Following this incident on Sunday, however, it's likely that he will drop in the standings.
Another effect of finishing 37th is that Johnson will start Wednesday's race in the same spot. He will have considerable ground to make up in order to contend for a top spot in the return to Darlington. Although he will have far more experience at The Lady in Black after taking part in Sunday's race.