"We had some issues with my car overheating," Johnson explained of why the #48 faded at the end. "That last caution that came out I got some trash and grass and stuff on the grill of the car. We were out of sequence the way we were lined up. I was going to push Junior and I had to be in the lead the way we had the debris on the grill. And then as we went to make our switch, the pack was organized and with the green-white-chequered situation, there's not a lot of time to get organized and we lost our momentum there and got to the outside and kind of stalled out up on the top and finished far worse than we had hoped to."
Johnson is now 50pts off the championship leader with just four races remaining before the title is decided. Kurt Busch is 52pts off the lead after his Talladega accident, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman had all come into Talladega knowing that their chances were all but over. They're now joined by Kyle Busch, whose woes at the superspeedway leave him 40pts off Carl Edwards by the end of the day.
The one driver left 'on the bubble' is Kevin Harvick: he's slumped to fifth place in the Sprint Cup championship points
and is now 26pts off the lead, which is a formidable gap to make up in just four races. But given his form in previous years, if there's anyone who can pull off this seemingly impossible feat, it may just be the #29.
Otherwise, Harvick - along with Johnson and both Busch brothers - will look back on an eventful Talladega as their most painfully costly Chase race of 2011.
Full race results and times available