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Jimmie Johnson on crash: ‘As I pulled on the wheel, it just came off in my hands’


during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 11, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.

Chris Trotman

Jimmie Johnson recalled his terrifying crash during Friday’s qualifying session when his steering wheel came off, saying: “As I pulled on the wheel, it just came off in my hands. So, I was just sitting there with no steering and holding the steering wheel, staring at the blue wall, and I was along for the ride.’'

Johnson, who was not injured, likened the helpless feeling to when he lost his brakes and crashed into foam barriers at Watkins Glen in 2000.

“There are only very few moments in my racing career I have had that moment where you are just totally helpless and along for the ride,’' Johnson said Saturday morning at Phoenix International Raceway. “When I saw the blue (of the wall) and the angle that I was at and the speed I was at, I knew it was going to be a big impact. I was just so thankful when I came off the wall that feet, legs, arms, wrists, head was fine and nothing was hurting.’'

Johnson said it was his fault the steering wheel came off.

“This one is on me,’' he said. “I’m going to make some small changes in my routines in getting in the car. We have lines in the steering shaft to make sure that your steering wheel is straight. I’m going to have an additional line to make sure that the steering wheel is on far enough, and hopefully, it is locked at that point. To be honest, Jeff Gordon gave me that suggestion last night when I was talking with him. I’m going to put that into effect right away.”

Johnson will go to a backup car and start at the rear of Sunday’s race.

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