Talladega, Ala., — Restrictor plate races have not been kind to Jimmie Johnson in 2012. The five-time Sprint Cup Champion only completed two laps in the season opening Daytona 500, and in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Johnson only made it 62 laps.
Johnson’s fate was sealed by a broken oil pump belt. The same fate plagued Ryan Newman, who had similar issues with a Hendrick Motorsports engine on lap 44.
“We had a problem and lost oil pressure there and don’t really know why just yet,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately the No. 39 [Newman] is sitting here with a similar issue so I’m hoping our teammates the other Hendrick engines don’t have the same issue with this oil pump or pressure issue situation, we’re not exactly sure what it is just yet.”
Johnson reported via team radio that he had run over debris, but Johnson did not think the debris had anything to do with the problem that inevitably sidelined the No. 48.
“The belt was off [the oil pump] so we don’t know if the pump seized, threw the belt off or if the belt came off and then the pump seized,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the issue was not heat related and was “definitely something different.”
“I started 19th and was able to manage my temperatures pretty good coming up through the pack,” Johnson said. “Up there leading in all that clear air, my stuff was way cold.”
Newman said the engine issue on the No. 39 were not heat related either.
“I smelled oil off of (Turn) 2 and felt the motor tightening-up I lost oil pressure and gained a bunch of water pressure,” Newman said. “I just pulled it out of gear.”
Johnson finished 35th and Newman finished 36th.