NSCS Recap: Jimmie Johnson Charges From Behind To Win At Dover DOVER, DE. -- Jimmie Johnson drove like a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Sunday afternoon, storming past two-time champion Tony Stewart with three laps remaining to win...
NSCS Recap: Jimmie Johnson Charges From Behind To Win At Dover
DOVER, DE. -- Jimmie Johnson drove like a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Sunday afternoon, storming past two-time champion Tony Stewart with three laps remaining to win the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese at Dover International Speedway.
Johnson literally dominated the event from start to finish with a perfect driver rating (150.0) but had to come from ninth to first in less than 30 laps after the 10th caution of the day slowed the field.
Stewart and several others opted for two tires on the last stop, which sent them back on the track ahead of Johnson, whose team decided to put four fresh tires on his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Stewart did everything possible to keep Johnson behind him but Johnson remained patient and slipped past on the 397th lap of the 400-lap event.
Trailing Johnson and Stewart was Greg Biffle, who led many of the final 27 laps before being passed by the speeding duo.
Matt Kenseth was fourth, followed by Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Mark Martin.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finished 12th after running in the top five at times during the grueling race at the track known as "The Monster Mile".
It was certainly a monster on this particular Sunday for a number of drivers, including young sensation Kyle Busch, who was running in the top 10 when a loose wheel sent him to the pits for an unscheduled stop. Busch has had a terrible run of luck lately, including a flat tire while leading Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He also encountered additional bad luck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as mechanical problems kept him out of Victory Lane despite having dominated most of the race.
Several accidents prompted caution periods, the last one involving David Stremme, who had a good run going. David Reutimann was also involved, spinning to avoid hitting Stremme's car broadside. Jeff Gordon, the points leader heading into the weekend, had a miserable day, losing a lap early on and never recovering. He finished 26th.
Tony Stewart takes over the point lead by 46 points over Gordon, who falls to second. Stewart is the first driver-owner to lead the points since Alan Kulwicki at the end of the 1992 season (Nov. 15, 1992). Johnson is third, followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin.
The sun was playing hide and seek with scattered clouds as the field roared to a raucous start. Pole-sitter Reutimann, who won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race last Monday at Charlotte, carried that momentum for a lap before Juan Pablo Montoya charged ahead for a lap. Reutimann went back out front on Lap 3 but only to lose the lead to Greg Biffle a few laps later.
Things settled in about 10 laps into the race and drivers cautiously continued, knowing a mandatory caution flag would be waved at Lap 30. The mandatory pit stop would allow teams to check tire wear after problems arose during Saturday's races.
When the caution fell, it was Reutimann, Reed Sorenson, Biffle, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kahne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Montoya running in the top.
When the race restarted on Lap 36, Elliott Sadler was the leader. Biffle was next, trailed by Johnson, Reutimann, Sorensen, Kyle Busch, Sorenson, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Kahne and Montoya. Five laps later, Sadler had dropped to 14th spot and Biffle was leading the way.
A second caution slowed the field after a few laps. Tony Raines cut a tire, prompting the caution. When the race resumed, Johnson was up front with a formidable array of talent in hot pursuit. Biffle was second, followed by Reutimann. Kurt Busch was right behind, trailed by Kahne, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Hornish, Jr., and Jamie McMurray.
At 100 laps, Johnson was leading before everyone made pit stops. A caution came out just as Johnson was completing his stop but he maintained the lead when racing resumed on Lap 130.
Edwards was second, Martin third, Kyle Busch fourth and Tony Stewart fifth. Rounding out the top 10 at that point were Hamlin, Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Casey Mears and Matt Kenseth. Only 25 cars were on the lead lap at that point due to the caution falling before everyone had pitted. Some of the cars losing a lap included Montoya, Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Hornish and McMurray. Kahne, Reutimann and Biffle were also losers as the result of the untimely caution. They were shuffled from the top 10 back to 22nd for Kahne, 24th for Reutimann and 21st for Biffle.
Johnson was consistently laying down laps faster than the field. At 160 laps, it was Johnson, Edwards, Martin, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin, Kenseth, Sorensen and Newman.
Montoya's right front tire let go near Turn 1 on Lap 163, bringing out the caution again. Reutimann was the "lucky dog" recipient, putting the pole-winner back on the lead lap.
At the halfway point, Johnson was in command, followed by Hamlin, Martin, Edwards, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Stewart, Newman, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch.