Jimmie Johnson has conceded his chances of winning a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title are slim after losing the Chase lead following a crash on Sunday at Phoenix.
Even if he won this weekend's season finale at Homestead, Johnson would need Chase leader Brad Keselowski to finish 16th or worse in order to beat him to the championship.
Johnson crashed at the exit of Turn 4 on lap 236 due to a deflating right-front tyre when running seventh.
The five-time Cup champion believes anything can still happen in the decisive 400-mile race at Homestead but admits his chances now rely on Keselowski's fortunes.
"It's way, way out of our control obviously with the problem we had," said Johnson. "We still have to go to Homestead and race. Anything can happen down there, but it's not the position we want to be in.
"I feel terrible for my team. I just hate for our day to turn out as it did, but that's racing. We will go to Homestead and do all we can down there and see how things pan out."
Johnson remained relatively sanguine about seeing his title hopes fade at the eleventh hour.
"I've been doing this a long time and I've won a few championships and I've lost a lot," he said. "Losing isn't any fun, but we will be back next weekend and next year hungrier than ever and do the best job we can."
Although the driver running second in the points heading into the Cup season finale has won the title in the last two seasons, Johnson's 20-point deficit is far greater than the margin he overcame in 2010, when he beat Denny Hamlin to the crown.