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Inclement weather delayed the start of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and plagued the event throughout the day and night. Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 KOBALT team started from the 11th position and showed strength early on. Johnson slipped two positions before climbing back into the ninth position by the first competition caution at Lap 50. Crew chief Chad Knaus opted for a two-tire change for No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS at the first yellow-flag pit stop at Lap 50. Johnson’s quick trip to pit road put him in the top position for the first restart at Lap 58.
After leading for 44 laps, he fell into the runner-up position at Lap 98. Johnson was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop at Lap 115 after shredding his right-front tire. Johnson restarted 39th and three laps down by the time the officials waved the red flag for rain.
When the race resumed, the No. 48 team, Johnson couldn’t catch a break as pit stop sequences kept them 2 laps down. Johnson gained several positions as the race continued and finally made up a lap. Johnson said his No. 48 Chevrolet was really fast and he moved into the 23rd position by Lap 347. After the second-to-last caution period, Johnson restarted 19th with 38 laps to go and held on to finish 19th, two laps down. Knaus told his driver and team he was proud of the effort made by the No. 48 throughout the race.
QUOTING JIMMIE DURING THE FIRST RAIN DELAY:
YOU HAD A GREAT CAR YOU HAD GREAT TRACK POSITION THEN YOU HAD THE TIRE COME APART CORRECT?
“Yeah, it was a really weird deal. The tire has air in it and is fine over there it’s just the tread came off the top of it. That slowed me down lost control I thought I had a flat. Came to pit road, the tire wasn’t flat, but the tread isn’t on it anymore.”
BEYOND THAT IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A GOOD CAR AND WE STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO?
“Yeah, we only went down three laps. We should get the wave around here, be down two laps and hopefully we can get some quick cautions and get back on the lead lap. We have a great KOBALT Chevrolet and we just need to get back to green and get going.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR TIRE?
“We are just trying to figure out what happened. The tire still had air in it. It didn’t wear it out. You can see the wear indicator on there (referencing a piece of the tire that came off the car). It certainly didn’t wear the tire out. Something made it come apart in this real long 50 foot section. I don’t know if we clipped something on the track that kind of scored the tread and then it unraveled or if something else happened with the tire. Now we are down multiple laps and we think it’s only three which there is a lot of racing left maybe we can get those three laps back and get on the lead lap and race for a win here.”
RACE WINNER: Carl Edwards
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHES: Jeff Gordon (7th), Kasey Kahne (8th), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (24th)
NEXT WEEK: Auto Club Speedway, Sunday, March 23rd. 3pm ET on FOX/MRN Radio