NASCAR has admitted it was wrong to place Jimmie Johnson at the rear of the field for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas.
Johnson qualified his Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet 23rd, but shortly before the start of the race NASCAR announced the #48 had failed pre-race inspection twice before passing and would have to drop to the rear of the field for the start as a result.
Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus attempted unsuccessfully to protest that decision, and argued that three pre-race inspection failures are required during a regular three-day race weekend before a car loses its starting position.
During the race, NASCAR officials admitted a mistake had been made and that although the car did fail twice it should not have lost its starting position as a result.
Johnson was involved in an on-track incident during the race with Hendrick Motorsports team-mate William Byron, but salvaged a 15th-place finish.
“There is no format for the teams to communicate to the tower [NASCAR officials],” said Johnson. “So, whatever the tower says is the way it is.
“This is just one of a few calls that have been wrong due to that situation.
“I don’t know how they do it. Here we have a minute and a half under caution, but at Bristol you’ve got 30 seconds.
“I don’t think it’s a perfect environment for them to get it right all the time. Stuff happens.”
After the race, NASCAR’s executive vice president Steve O’Donnell called the mistake “unacceptable” and “disappointing” and said officials had apologised to Knaus and the #48 team.
O’Donnell added NASCAR would put processes in place to ensure the mistake would not happen again.