NASCAR at Darlington: Jimmie Johnson crashes while leading with less than a lap to go in first stage

Jimmie Johnson looked like a serious contender throughout the first stage of Sunday’s NASCAR race at Darlington.

Until the final lap of the stage.

The seven-time Cup Series champion was leading the race on the 90th lap when he came up on the lapped car of Chris Buescher. Johnson edged toward Buescher’s back bumper as the two drivers went through Turns 1 and 2 and Johnson prepped to make a pass down the backstretch.

But Buescher had to get out of the throttle slightly off the exit of Turn 2, and Johnson got into his bumper and went spinning.

“I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side-by-side with him and things just went horribly wrong there,” Johnson said. “What a great car, I feel terrible for my team.”

Johnson had run in the top five for most of the first third of the race before he passed teammate Alex Bowman for the lead. His presence up front was no fluke. He had a fast car. And he ended the race with a wrecked car.

Johnson finished the race 38th. He’s still looking for his first win since June 2017; a span of more than 90 races.

He’ll get his next shot on Wednesday, as NASCAR runs its second Cup race at Darlington in four days to help make up races postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. Sunday’s race was the first in 10 weeks for NASCAR after it last raced on March 8 at Phoenix.

Jimmie Johnson's day at Darlington didn't last very long. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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