BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will have to give up the 13th starting position and start in the rear for Sunday's Cup race following a spin into the grass Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
The Hendrick Motorsports team initially thought it could repair the damage, but after nearly two hours of work, the team determined the damage to the front of the car was too much to race. It began getting the backup car ready about 30 minutes before final practice Saturday.
An empty transporter means backup car. 👎 pic.twitter.com/URHtDgRjX1— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 17, 2017
Johnson said immediately after the accident that he was surprised there wasn't enough damage to force him to a backup, but the team at first thought the damage was fixable. With track position so important at Michigan, teams often do everything they can to race their primary car and not start at the rear.
"I got loose into Turn 3 and fought it for a long time and unfortunately came around," Johnson said about the spin. "[I] did a nice job of keeping it off the outside wall but came back down the hill and into the grass and the front end dug in pretty good."
Johnson was ninth in the final practice Saturday in his backup car.
"We need to work a little more on it to make it more comfortable for me, but all things considered, we will be OK tomorrow," Johnson said. "[We] just need to pass some cars again."
Joining Johnson at the rear of the field will be AJ Allmendinger, who was set to start 25th before a crash at the end of final practice Saturday forced him to a backup car.