Jimmie Johnson’s quest for an eighth championship ended in Stage 2 at Phoenix after the 48 car hit the wall.
Johnson had struggled throughout these playoffs, and he was in a must-win scenario at Phoenix. He cut a tire and hit the wall, and his car sustained damage.
According to NASCAR analyst Jeff Gluck, crew chief Chad Knaus had just given Johnson orders to go up top.
Johnson told NBC Sports after he exited the race that he’s disappointed in not making the championship, but he said he and his team weren’t clicking.
“I hate it for this team,” Johnson said. “They’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m so proud of their efforts. I know it’s not the results we want, but we’re Hendrick strong and I’m proud of Team 48. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to make eight this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard.
“Disappointed for sure, but the last couple of months we’ve been staying alive. But at this stage, you can’t just stay alive, you have to hit on all eight cylinders. … We just can’t get there right now.”
Johnson won three races this season, but he hasn’t won since June and he hasn’t had one of the fastest cars this year.
His absence leaves Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott fighting for the last spot for Homestead.