Jimmie Johnson crashed on lap three of Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Texas, throwing the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series wide open.
The reigning champion got hit on his left rear corner at the exit of Turn 2 by Sam Hornish Jr., who got sideways on his inside. Johnson first crashed into the outside wall, then went across the track, hitting hard against the inside barrier. His car sustained heavy damage and, despite his team's best efforts to repair his stricken machine, Johnson is set to get a low score out of the event.
Meanwhile, his main rivals for the title, his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, have raced at the front and expect to profit from Johnson's misfortune.
"I know you guys get tired of hearing this, but anything can happen," Johnson had said on Friday at Texas while addressing the media, before telling about the aggressive approach he would keep ahead of the next two races. "I feel if we start focusing on an average position where we need to finish, do some things that are different than what the 48 car does, we will set ourselves up for a problem."
Ninety laps into the race, Johnson was in 43rd place and still sitting in the garage, while Kyle Busch led the race. Jeff Gordon was running in the top 10, while Mark Martin was 16th, both looking set to cut massively into Johnson's lead in the standings.