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Jimmie Johnson wrecks while leading at end of Stage 1

Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 5.03.25 PM

Jimmie Johnson was half a lap from winning the first stage of Sunday’s Cup Series race at Darlington when he was eliminated in a crash on the backstretch.

Johnson was attempting to pass Chris Buescher out of Turn 2 when he made contact with the left-rear fender of Buescher’s car.

The contact sent Johnson into a slide that ended when he hit the inside wall.

Johnson had taken the lead just a few laps before when he passed teammate Alex Bowman.

“Gosh, what I would do to get that corner back to do it over again,” Johnson told Fox. “Coming to the end of the stage, just trying to make sure I got a good run coming off Turn 2, I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side-by-side with him then things just went horribly wrong there.”

William Byron took the stage win. He then wrecked on his own on Lap 109 in Stage 2.

Johnson will have to start from the back of the field for Wednesday’s race at Darlington. Drivers that finish from 21st to 40th in today’s race will start in that same spot Wednesday.