Jimmie Johnson leads a pack of NASCAR drivers during the Sprint Cup race… (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty…)
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmie Johnson crashed during the NASCAR race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, jeopardizing his bid to win a sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.
Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet crashed into the outside wall in Turn 4 on Lap 234 of the 312-lap race after it appeared the car's right front tire blew or the car had some sort of braking malfunction.
Johnson's crew took the car to the garage for repairs.
Making matters worse for Johnson, his closest competitor for the title, Brad Keselowski, had just taken the race lead moments before Johnson's accident.
Johnson began the day seven points ahead of Keselowski, who drives the No. 2 Dodge for Penske Racing, in the Sprint Cup standings. But the crash could drop Johnson well behind Keselowski if Keselowski doesn't encounter his own problems.
After extensive repairs, Johnson returned to the track but was running 33rd and for the moment that placed him 19 points behind Keselowski in the championship battle.
There is only one race remaining after Sunday, at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway next Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson's taking of points lead revs up resentment
Joey Logano wins NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix
Funny car teammates could race for NHRA points championship