In a surprise episode during qualifying two Hendrick Motorsports cars failed in one manner or another. In the first session of qualifying after posting the third fastest time at 26.241 seconds or 137.190 mph, Kasey Kahne’s #5 Great Clips Chevrolet began smoking near the dash area. Kahne said he tried to turn the car off but it kept running.
“I got out of the car about when it started smoking but I shut the car off in Turn 1 after I took the lap and then in Turn 3 it started smoking a little,” said Kahne. “And then I could here it running so I shut everything off, batteries, everything in there. I got out and it was still running. It just kept running until I drove away in the ambulance and then it just shut off. I’m just really confused on what was going on. I really have no idea.”
Kahne’s car was towed to the garage as the red flag was displayed. Kahne earned the 24th spot, but will start at the rear Sunday, after the crew will need to add a new engine to the #5 Chevrolet. The team concluded that the engine went into EFI, which stands for electronic fuel injection, protection mode and blew up.
During the final qualifying session Jimmie Johnson, also brought about the red flag on his second lap, when the #48 Lowes Chevrolet slammed into the Turn 2 wall at full speed demolishing the entire right side of the racecar. Johnson was able to climb out of the car after it slid into and come to a stop in the grass. He examined and released from the infield care center.
“Don’t know for sure,” Johnson said initially after exiting the infield medical center. “Certainly a lot a straight in an area of the track that I didn’t need to have straight. So we’ll have to get to the bottom of it and see what went on.”
“I’m thankful that we have SAFER Barriers and soft walls,” said Johnson. “We’re really disappointed because we had such a fast race car and the guys have been working so hard to get this thing tuned up. Thankfully, we have tomorrow to work on the back-up car and try to get it up to speed and get it going, but this is certainly not what we wanted right now.”
Johnson earned the fifth starting position with his first lap in the final round, but the team opted to go to their back-up car after his wreck and like his HMS teammate Kahne, the #48 Chevrolet will drop to the rear of the 39 car field for the start of the race.
Johnson later went on Twitter and confirmed that his steering wheel came off. He also admitted he wanted to confer with his team first about what occurred on the track.
The Good Sam 500 will be televised, Sunday, March 13, on Fox with the pre-race show starting at 3 p.m. followed by race coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.