It will go into the theoretical faulty part hall of fame, season-ruining wing, the right rear axle seal that on Sunday at Dover International Speedway helped eject six-time series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson from the Chase for the Sprint Cup after one round. It'll be near the display the for cracked cylinder head that cost Jeff Gordon a 111-point lead in the standings with four races left in the 1996 Sprint Cup season and preceded a Terry Labonte comeback for the championship. The broken suspension piece that sent IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya into the wall at Iowa Speedway this year – he lost the points lead and title to Scott Dixon on tiebreakers in the final race – will be mounted soon.
And so the Jimmie Johnson display will follow, proving yet again, that every little thing matters in racing. And sometimes the little things matter a lot, even though, he said, "We take for granted how indestructible these cars are."
"We didn't expect an axle seal would be the culprit and take your championships hopes away (but) it's racing," he said. "I've had mechanicals take me out of championships growing up that led to success for myself and I'm sure helped me with a championship or two. It's just part of racing. It just shows how critical everything on a race team is and how critical every component is. You can't take anything for granted. Heart-breaking for sure, but there's nothing we can do about it."
Johnson estimated the axle seal's cost at $5. Kevin Harvick crew chief Rodney Childers agreed on that as its fair cost, but said the sums NASCAR teams pay for some semblance of peace of mind and pieces of quality price it at about $50. Race cars are made of thousands of bits and pieces, many of those parts crafted within team race shops, some purchased in bulk from vendors with the assumption and hope, that one bad batch or one bad component within that lot doesn't fail at a crucial point to ruin in a season of work for drivers and mechanics alike. USA Today