For Jimmie Johnson, Sunday’s Lap 95 excursion into Turn 1 at Pocono Raceway was the scariest moment the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver had endured since nosing into a tire barrier in a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen 17 years ago.
Johnson roared into the tight corner at more than 200 mph, but a sudden brake failure sent his No. 48 Chevrolet out of control and hurtling into the outside wall.
“(The brake pedal) went right to the floor, and I saw a replay inside the medical center,” Johnson said after exiting the infield care center. “The smoke, I think, is the brake fluid coming out of wherever it failed and onto the rotors. I can only speculate that I got the brakes too hot and when I went to the brakes they just traveled straight to the floor.
“I didn’t even have a pedal to push on. At that point, I threw it in third gear and I was just trying to slow it down. I was heading to the grass, and I was wondering why I didn’t turn right and get to the wall sooner, but I’m fine. Certainly, a big scare. I haven’t had a scare like that since 2000 at Watkins Glen. So, just want to let my wife and kids and my mom know that I’m okay and I will go change my underwear and get ready to go home.”
In a bizarre coincidence, Jamie McMurray’s brakes failed in the same corner on the same lap. His No. 1 Chevrolet caught fire, forcing McMurray to make a hasty exit from the cockpit.
“I didn’t really even see the No. 48 (Johnson) wrecking until I just went down and I got on the brake pedal and my pedal started to go to the floor, and I had a little bit that I could kind of pump it, and I thought I was going to be OK.
“And then, I don’t know if I got into some oil or what happened, but I just started spinning and didn’t have any brakes. So it was really weird that we kind of both had the same thing happen at the same point on the racetrack, but fortunately, we’re both OK, and, yeah, move on.”