Johnson’s ‘got to figure something out’

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Crew members push the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, driven by Jimmie Johnson (not pictured), prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson has seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships. He has seven victories at Texas Motor Speedway.

None of that mattered in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, when Johnson’s race – and likely his hopes for a record eighth title – went south in a hurry.

On Lap 65 of 334, after the first round of green-flag pit stops, Johnson brought his No. 48 Chevrolet back to pit road because of a vibration. He lost two laps in the process.

Rather than take a wave-around under caution at the end of the first stage, crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson to pit road, and he remained two laps down. On Lap 131, he lost another circuit on the track when race leader Kyle Larson passed him.

Johnson finished 27th, three laps down, and dropped to eighth in the series standings, 51 points behind Brad Keselowski in fourth. Nothing short of a victory next Sunday at Phoenix will earn Johnson a place in the Championship 4 finale at Homestead.

“We’ve got to figure something out,” Johnson said. “Kansas (the Round of 12 finale) was a lot like this. It was just extremely difficult to drive the car and carry entry speed. And then we had a loose wheel and then contact on a restart. We started off in a hole and just kept digging a deeper one as we went.

“I’m definitely disappointed. And I honestly just feel bad for my team. These guys are working so hard. And to work this hard and not see any speed go back in the car and have bad results, as the last three weeks have been, is pretty disappointing.”

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