Johnson's points lead shrinks at Texas

Updated: November 9, 2009, 2:06 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jimmie Johnson crashed on the third lap of the NASCAR race at Texas, where he was trying to move closer to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Sprint Cup season championship.

He returned to the track on lap 115 in a rebuilt car.

Johnson was coming out of Turn 2 on the third lap Sunday when Sam Hornish got loose after being tapped by David Reutimann.

Johnson
Johnson

Hornish made contact with Johnson and the series points leader scraped the outside wall. He looked like he may save his car before he was hit again by Hornish, knocking Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet hard into the inside wall.

"By the time that I knew that I was hit, I was already sideways," Hornish said. "I was just trying to correct it and not get into the 48. Obviously, you don't ever want to detract from the championship when you're not really even involved in it."

It took more than an hour to repair Johnson's car, which was solid black on the front and rear when it got back in the race. Within a couple of laps, Johnson had moved out of last place, up two spots to 40th, though he was still 118 laps behind leader Kyle Busch at the time.

Hornish got back on the track only two laps after the wreck with a lot of tape on the car.

Crew members replaced the front and rear suspensions and the driveshaft of Johnson's car, along with other repairs. It looked like a makeshift body shop in the garage area, with crew members from teammate Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping out.

Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, slammed his fist on the team's pit box when the accident happened. A few minutes later, he could be heard on the radio calmly telling his crew to take their time and get it right.

Johnson came into the race with a 184-point lead over teammate Mark Martin and 192 over Gordon, the polesitter, though he could not have clinched Sunday even with a victory. There are two races left after Texas.

On lap 87, Hornish got loose coming out of Turn 2 again, spinning and making hard contact against the wall. His crew worked on pit row to make repairs to the left side of the car.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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