Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson says he will continue to give the fight in the second half of the Chase after crashing out of Saturday's race at Charlotte.
Johnson was on course for a solid top-10 finish in the fifth round of the Chase but lost control of his car while fighting for position with Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman less than 20 laps from the end of the race. Following a hard impact against the barrier which caused massive damage to his No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson was forced to retire and take a hit in the play-off ranking dropping from third down to eighth in the points.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver took blame for the incident while talking to his team on the radio and later admitted his poor score compromises his chances of fighting for a sixth consecutive Sprint Cup title.
"There are five races left, and right now all we have are those five races," said Johnson. "Definitely not the night we wanted. This is not going to help us win a sixth championship. Promise you, this team and myself, we won't quit. We will go for every point we can from here on out and hopefully we are still champions at the end of the year."
He added: "We just go racing. We cannot do much about tonight, it's happened, it's done, we have five races left and we will go out and give 100 percent and see where it shakes out, definitely not the night we wanted but not much we can do about it now."
Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus believes their race could have been different had they chosen to go for new right-side tires instead of a full set when they pitted during the second caution of the race right before the halfway point. At the time Johnson was running second to Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth – who also dropped down in the order while running the same tire strategy as Johnson. But while Kenseth was able to charge to the front again and eventually take victory, it took long for Johnson to break inside the top 10 as track conditions proved difficult for overtaking.
"Obviously, we've put ourselves in a bit of a hole again, unfortunately," Knaus said. "It's too bad. We had a good car. Midway through the race I made a bad call and we took four tires. We probably should have taken two tires and we just had difficulty overcoming that. But, that happens. It's part of racing.
"I was real proud of Jimmie and the way the guys performed today. We had great pit stops once again. We got caught on pit road twice; leaving pit road and two cautions came and that hurt us pretty bad. So, it was difficult to overcome it.
"The 17 car [Matt Kenseth], he was in the same boat that we were. They took four tires the same time we did and they came back and won. Obviously, if we could have had a few breaks, we could have been there with him... that put us behind the eight ball and we just weren't able to overcome it."
Next up in the Chase schedule is Talladega, where Johnson claimed his first win of the season earlier this year.