NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Multi-Car Pileup Leads to Short Red Flag in Texas

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series endured its largest wreck since February’s Daytona 500 Sunday (Apr. 8) at Texas Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, who was the only Chevrolet driver to qualify in the top 10, was among seven drivers collected in a big wreck on lap 179 in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. The carnage on the racetrack was severe enough NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag.

Denny Hamlin got loose on the backstretch to start the incident. He slid up the track into Aric Almirola before spinning and collecting Brad Keselowski and Johnson. Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne and David Ragan were also involved in the incident but were able to continue racing.

For Johnson, it’s the No. 48 team’s second DNF this season. More importantly, it’s also the fifth race out of seven he’s failed to finish on the lead lap. After suffering a loose wheel earlier in the race, he was already scrambling from behind.

“By the time I saw what went on the No. 11 (Hamlin) was backward and smoking the tires coming up the track,” Johnson explained. “I knew where his arc was taking him. I knew I was in trouble in the outside lane and going to get into him some.  And then the crash just kind of continued from there.

“Unfortunate circumstances, but a lot to build on from this weekend.  We had a lot of different things work against us today. But we are getting closer each and every week and I’m really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.  We will get back to our winning ways soon.”

Hamlin stopped short of accepting responsibility for the accident.

“I was obviously running the bottom there – the No. 10 (Almirola) tried to squeeze,” he said. “I realized that he was going to come down and I got out of the gas and I got loose underneath him. It’s my responsibility to keep the car under me, but we were just in such tight quarters there it was nearly impossible to do.”

“We were kind of getting squeezed there a little bit. There was just – running these speeds, you’ve got to have all the side force that you need,” Hamlin continued. “He was battling beside the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) I believe. We tried to go low, he was trying to fight for that real estate as well and we just got together.”

With the fifth caution, today’s DNF count sits at six drivers, including Johnson, Hamlin, Keselowski and Almirola. Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. suffered earlier tire failures that forced them to retire from the race.

LUNKENHEIMER: TRUEX, LARSON IN EARLY TEXAS WRECKS

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