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Jimmie Johnson, AJ Allmendinger tangle midway through the Southern 500

  Bad night for Jimmie Johnson (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jimmie Johnson took a hard hit in the driver's door midway through Saturday night's Southern 500, but he escaped unscathed.
   Rookie Kevin Conway clipped the wall, and AJ Allmendinger spun trying to avoid him. But Allmendinger's brakes failed, and his car skidded backwards up the track toward the outside wall and into Johnson.
    "The brake rotor exploded," Allmendinger said. "The last 40 or 50 laps we were struggling with brake problems and just no brakes. 
    "We took all the brake-cooling off and thought maybe we were going to fix it. And when that yellow came out I went to hit the brakes to slow down and the brake rotors exploded. I'm not sure which one.
    "But (then) I was just trying to aim for the bottom and trying to miss everybody.
    "I'm sorry to Jimmie.  It wasn't his fault...but I had no brakes and couldn't do anything about it."
    Johnson, coming out of the infield hospital, said "I'm fine."
    But Johnson said Allmendinger caught him unaware. "I have to see where he even came from," Johnson said. "All I know is at the last minute I saw a green bumper and it was a hard hit."
   That wasn't Johnson's only trouble during the race. "Unfortunately we had all kinds of issues," Johnson said. "Got caught up in all kinds of little small things.
    "But we still had a very fast race car, and I think we could have salvaged a top-10, top-five finish.
    "I'm going back and watch the video because I have no clue....I guess it was AJ because he came and apologized to me and said his brakes failed or something.
     "I don't know if he was behind me or where he was. But he came in there hot and hit me hard.
      "He wasn't in my line of sight; then all of a sudden the caution was out, and here came a car flying up the track and into me.
      "Just wrong place, wrong time, I guess.
       "We had a tough night, a bunch of small issues. But we were still fighting through all that and still on the lead lap.
     "Then we got slammed over there in three and four."
     Conway: "I got loose, and when I went to catch it, I got up in the dust at the very tippy top, and there's just no room here. 
    "When you get loose, you're already about a foot from the wall anyway...and it just kind of sucked us up into it and killed the right-front."


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   Beautiful night for racing at Darlington....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

The only one to feel bad for

The only one to feel bad for is Allmendinger. Johnson got what he's deserved for years now.

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