While many eyes were on opponent John Force as he crossed the center line in the final qualifying session, all attention was soon on Johnson Jr as the Make-A-Wish car blew the body off in spectacular fashion at near 250mph.
Johnson Jr was engulfed in flames for a brief second but the heat quickly subsided and he was able to bring the car to a safe stop.
The explosion was the third such incident in six runs for Johnson Jr, who rode out two explosions in Phoenix just weeks ago.
“That was probably the biggest boomer I’ve ever had,” Johnson Jr said after the spectacular moment.
“There was no warning whatsoever. The car was running really good and just before the finish line, kaboom! Unexpected for sure. I hate it for the crew guys, all the extra work it’s going to cause. They went through that enough already in Phoenix. I don’t think any of (these explosions) are related, and that’s what’s unfortunate. I don’t think it’s a problem we have, it’s just maybe a run of bad luck.”