Our Top 10 of 2013: No. 9 - Earnhardt Jr., Johnson Rebound from Early Quaker State 400 Damage
Earnhardt Jr., Johnson Hendrick Cars Damaged by Tire Casing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson bring us our ninth top moment of 2013 by rebounding from early Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts trouble after their cars were damaged when they connected with a tire casing shed by Denny Hamlin's No. 11 car in Turn 4.
Earnhardt Jr., held the race lead on Lap 39 of 267 when the tire remnant bent the right-side splitter and punched a hole in the grill of his No. 88 machine. Johnson's No. 48 raced a close second when it made contact with the debris and sustained lighter right-side damage.
Johnson would go on to lead a race-best and series track-record 182 laps before a chance to capture a first Kentucky Speedway victory was dashed when his car spun in Turn 1 on a Lap 247 restart. The eventual series champion battled back to place ninth and charted his third straight top-10 series finish in Kentucky.
"We were kind of in an awkward situation in that restart. We were three- or four-wide going into the corner. Something happened with the air and just kind turned me around. It was unfortunate, but at least we brought it back for a good finish," Johnson said.
Earnhardt Jr., who started from the pole position after setting a new series track qualifying record with a 183.636 mph lap, led 10 race laps and battled to a 12th-place finish.
"I hit it (the tire)wide open. If I'm in the corner loaded up, I can't drive it left or right. I knew it was real bad. I thought it knocked the splitter off.
"Tire cases weigh about 100 pounds, maybe 80 pounds. It just took all day to figure out what all was wrong. It was a bunch of little stuff. It still wasn't really good at the end," Earnhardt Jr., said.
- Kentucky Speedway -