Jimmie Johnson was left feeling “terrible” after he “body-slammed” Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr in a bizarre Richmond NASCAR Cup collision.
In the final quarter of the race Johnson, who had pitted from second, caught Earnhardt’s sister Hendrick Chevrolet and moved to the inside as his team-mate stayed high.
Johnson then let his car run right across the track and crashed into the side of Earnhardt, pinning him against the wall.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson said he was not aware Earnhardt was on his outside.
“I just have to try to figure out if I just didn’t hear it being told to me or if it wasn’t told to me,” said Johnson.
“I just feel terrible, obviously.
“Man, I’m surprised our cars even kept rolling after that because I just body -slammed him into the wall.
“That’s the last thing you want to have happen with a team-mate.”
Johnson had won the previous two races, at Texas and Bristol, but was outside the top 10 in the first two stages at Richmond.
He still made the finish despite the crash, after his crew made multiple repairs to his car and allowed him to restart the race 25th before taking 11th at the chequered flag.
Earnhardt also made the restart, then had his own spin 10 laps later.
“I was running the top right against the fence and really wasn’t watching the mirror, so I didn’t know he was there or anybody was coming,” said Earnhardt, who finished a twice-lapped 30th.
“When you are running the top you don’t have to worry about it – everybody kind of takes care of you – but Jimmie didn’t know I was there.
“It was an explosion, but the car held up pretty well.
“It knocked the sway bar arm off it, so we ran the last bit of the race without a sway bar hooked up.”
None of the Hendrick drivers earned stage points at Richmond.
Kasey Kahne finished 22nd after a pitlane speeding penalty, while Chase Elliott picked up a commitment line violation with 12 laps remaining in the race and ended up 24th.