“Definitely disappointing, but again, I feel that we had the speed, we had 80 percent of the Chase that we needed to have. So it’s hard to be real down on myself or real down on where we finished. These championships are special, and it takes an entire 10-race — clean 10 races to win one of these things. We hurt ourselves in Phoenix, and then today didn’t help.”
Johnson entered the race needing a win, Brad Keselowski simply needed a 15th place finish. At one point during the race it looked like Johnson would pull off the win adding pressure on Keselowski.
“I said at the beginning of the week, 15th isn’t a lay-up, and I certainly had him in position. He made it really interesting here at the end of this thing. It we could have not had the mistake on pitted road and then the gear failure at the end. Didn’t really catch exactly what happened but I know there was oil under the back of the car.”
The pit road penalty appeared to doom Johnson’s hope of winning. Moments later a gear failure placed the No. 48 car behind the wall. Johnson won five titles from 2006 though 2010 before losing his spot atop NASCAR last season when he finished 6th.
A blown tire at Phoenix and a parts failure at Homestead resulted in a 3rd place finish in the standings. Even though the year did not go as planned, Johnson was able to find some positives.
“But I have a lot to be proud of this year and so does this race team, and I can’t thank everybody — I need to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Every man and woman there put in countless hours giving me great equipment, the support from Lowe’s, my fan base, Chevrolet and my family. We did all we could and came up a little short. “