Jimmie Johnson endured a series of late-race cautions, a green/white/checkered finish and the hard-charging Chevy of teammate Kyle Busch to earn his third victory of 2005. Johnson was leading with Busch breathing down his bumper-cover when Joe Nemechek hit the wall with three laps to go.
"It was just a real solid day for the Lowe's team today," said Johnson. "We started the race off great and led some laps. The middle part of the race, it seemed like the Roush cars all showed up at the same time. Four of them to deal with. And then as the race went on, I noticed that the No. 17 had some trouble. I saw the No. 16 and I was coming to lap him and I didn't really know what happened to the No. 97 there.at the end there was just the No. 6 of those lead Roush cars to deal with.
"I got by him and inched out a nice lead. The cautions started coming at that point, and we just took a risk on some strategy."
It was welcome medicine for the 48 team who has had four results of 16th or worse in the last seven races.
"Man, we needed that so bad," said Johnson who's victory gets him the lead in Chase standings. "It was a great race, I am just thankful to be able to bring the Lowe's Monte Carlo back to victory lane."
Busch was second earning his 11th top-10 of the season.
"Our run was decent," Busch commented. "It was about the same as Rusty's there. We really struggled in the beginning of the race. A real tight race car. It took the guys a long time to get it where I needed it to be able to drive right. It was all the way up to a second to last pit stop where we finally got a little bit looser where I could drive the thing."
Rusty Wallace was third garnering just his second top-three of the year.
"I had the restart, which was all I could do," said Wallace. "But, second gear was just a little too low, and those guys would beat me pretty good on the restarts. I was spinning the tires and all that. But, I had a good handling car. It was a little too tight, but other than that it was a good run. I'm happy we brought it home with a top-three finish.
"So, for our last start at Dover that's pretty respectable."
Mark Martin and Ryan Newman complete the top five.
"We just lost track position there for a while," Newman said. "When you're restarting 20th or 26th, or whatever it was there, it just makes it really difficult to pass. Luckily (the caution) came out at the right time for us, when we were getting ready to pit. We gained a lot of track position; got ourselves in the top five and obviously, we held our own there at that point."
Newman took the green flag at the front of the field for the MBNA Race Points 400 at Dover International Speedway. Newman was leading when the first caution came out on lap 8 due to a single car crash caused by Stanton Barrett in turn one.
Newman remained upfront when the grid restarted on lap 17. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was running second on the restart when he was forced to pit road under green due to a massive brake failure on the No. 8 Chevy.
As the cars settled into green flag racing, Johnson passed Newman on lap 31 to grab the lead. The race ran caution free until lap 70 when Mike Bliss turned the No. 0 Chevy into the inside wall.
That yellow brought the leaders to the pits with Greg Biffle beating Johnson off pit road. It only took Johnson a few laps to power past the No. 16 Ford to regain the top spot.
Just as the No. 20 Chevy of Tony Stewart was being put a lap down by leader Johnson, a caution flag for debris waved on lap 109. Stewart was the recipient of the 'lucky dog' placing him back on the lead lap.
Johnson led the leaders down pit road but Kurt Busch beat him out to garner the event lead. Busch was still leading when the fourth caution came out at lap 177 after Scott Wimmer hit the wall in turn one.
After pit stops Biffle led the field but Kurt Busch easily passed him within two laps to find his way to the front again. A caution brought out on lap 203 by Kevin LePage once again gave a struggling Stewart his lap back.
Pit strategies began to play out as several cars grabbed just two tires including Elliott Sadler who came out in the top spot followed by Greg Biffle, Jeremy Mayfield who all took two tires.
Sadler quickly jumped out to a second advantage on the field. As the No. 38 Ford started to check out, Chase hopeful Matt Kenseth, running fifth, was forced to pit under green due to a flat tire on the No. 17 Ford.
The two tire/four tire scenario began to play out as Kurt Busch (who took four tires) caught and passed Sadler on lap 231. Busch held the lead through a lap 261 debris caution and a lap 282 yellow when Robby Gordon smacked the wall.
Caution number eight came out when Jamie McMurray made contact with Tony Raines collecting Jeff Gordon.
"He (McMurray) just flat out turned into the guy, and collected us in the process," explained Gordon.
Kenseth was the 'lucky dog' after that caution putting the No. 17 Ford back on the lead lap as teammate Busch continued his reign at the top on the restart on lap 297. Fellow Roush teammate, Biffle, was running in the top three on the restart and leading the points when he had a tire go down on the No. 16 Ford; forcing him to pit under green.
There were 63 to go, the No. 97 Ford started to fall off a bit allowing Johnson and Martin to scoot by for the 1-2 spots. Busch pitted under green on lap 366 but it proved to be bad timing for the No. 97 team.
Two laps later, Kenseth had a right front tire go down hitting the wall and bringing out the ninth caution period. The leaders pitted with Martin getting out on top followed by Johnson; Kurt Busch restarted in 12th.
With 25 laps to go, the No. 6 Ford of Martin was out front being closely pursued by Johnson's Chevy but it wouldn't even take the 48 one lap to stick it back out in front. As those two checked out, Kurt Busch's luck finally ran out as a flat tire brought him back to the pits on lap 378.
Martin lost another spot to Kyle Busch and was running third when a debris yellow on lap 387 re-bunched the contenders.
On the restart on lap 389, Johnson put the peddle to the meddle to hold off Kyle Busch and Martin but a lap 397 caution set-up a green/white/checker finish. Busch tried but in the end it was Johnson across the line first earning his 17th career win.
The victory snatches the lead in Chase standings for Johnson. Rusty Wallace (-7), Ryan Newman (-12), Mark Martin (-21), Tony Stewart (-23), Greg Biffle (-23), Jeremy Mayfield (-81), Carl Edwards (-103), Matt Kenseth (-124) and Kurt Busch (-170) complete the top ten.
There were 11 cautions for 50 laps and seven lead changes among 15 drivers.