FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson doesn't believe his Hendrick Motorsports team was to blame for his tire coming apart at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Johnson was running second early in Sunday's race when he was forced to pit with a right front tire problem on the No. 48 Chevrolet. The unplanned stop dropped him several laps off the pace and he never recovered, finishing 19th.
When crew chief Chad Knaus inspected the tire, he saw the tread had fallen off, and sarcastically radioed Johnson: "I'm sure it's something we did. I'm sure it's our fault."
Goodyear officials said during the rain delay the No. 48 crew didn't change right-side tires during the first pit stop, and wear caused the tire to fail.
Johnson said Friday he disagreed with Goodyear's assessment, even after meeting with officials from NASCAR's exclusive tire provider.
"From a team standpoint, we're still very adamant that the wear on the tire was not the issue," the six-time champion said.
Johnson said Knaus' sarcasm on the radio was the crew chief foreshadowing Goodyear's expected explanation.
"If you look at how things transpired ... when Goodyear had a chance to respond it was our fault, that is what Chad was preparing us for — that of course it was going to be our fault," Johnson said. "I went in the truck and sat down and talked with (Goodyear tire developer) Rick Campbell, and I get along with Rick great, and we had a great conversation about the wear on the tire and what potentially could have happened.
"A lot of guys had left-front wear and issues with the left-front and some stuff going on there. We are very confident ... it wasn't worn out."