NASCAR: Johnson tames Dover

Jimmie Johnson was in Victory Lane at Dover as he took Sunday's Fed Ex 400

Jimmie Johnson was in Victory Lane at Dover as he took Sunday’s Fed Ex 400

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway the day ended as most race experts and fans expected that it would, with the No. 48 Chevy of  Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane.

He made it two Sprint Cup race wins in a row and continued his mastering of the always tough Monster Mile at Dover taking the checkered flag to win the “FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. He also recorded his record  ninth career victory at the Monster Mile.

Johnson was pushed by Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin, who combined to comprise the top five. In doing so, Johnson won consecutive races for the 13th time in his career, after taking last weekend’s race in Charlotte.

He ran up front for the most part, leading 272 of the 400 laps in all. However, while it may sound like an easy day at the office for Johnson, it was at times a very challenging afternoon. Johnson’s ninth win at Dover really had more to do with him staying out of trouble while those who were chasing seemed to find plenty of  bad luck.

First we can talk about Kyle Busch, for one, would have probably been one of Johnson’s biggest thorns. Busch was trying to become the first driver to ever pull off a three-race sweep at Dover, after winning the May 30 “Lucas Oil 200” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and the May 31 “Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket” NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Early on, it looked like he might do just that – Busch drove away from Keselowski at the start of the race and went on to lead the first 81 laps.

But then he was caught by the hard charging Johnson, who would then go on to lead the race for 45 laps. Meanwhile, Busch was lurking behind, running in third and looking for his opportunity, when his day came to a sudden end after contact with Bowyer on lap 125. Bowyer, who under the impression that he was clear of Busch after a pass, came up the track and sent Busch into the outside wall.

Once Busch was done, Kenseth and Harvick joined Keselowski as drivers who appeared to have something for Johnson, with Jeff Gordon also showing promise. Harvick was the first to show a challenge, passing Johnson for the lead immediately upon a restart off a caution period at lap 140.

Harvick held the lead through an unusual incident at lap 158 when a piece of the track came loose and was hit by Jamie McMurray, who slid up into the wall after the impact. The race was stopped under a red flag for approximately 22 minutes while NASCAR and track personnel patched the spot, which didn’t cause any issues for the rest of the day.

Harvick, however, had an issue almost immediately upon the resumption of the race, and one that was about equally bizarre. The inside valve stem of one of his tires was knocked off by a piece of debris that had actually made its way into the wheel and rattled around in there. He was forced to the pits and came back out two laps down. Another pit issue further complicated his day later in the race, and he finished 17th.

Once Harvick relinquished the lead, Kenseth ran up front for the next 13 laps. But Johnson ran him down on lap 178. Gordon was running second for a fairly long period of time, but late in the race his car got to the point where it was handling roughly. Gordon’s chagrin was audible over the radio as he told his team the woes of the car’s handling. He finished 15th.

The last question of Johnson’s dominance came after a debris caution with six laps remaining, which allowed the field to get back up behind the No. 48 for a restart. But Kenseth spun his tires off that restart, Bowyer bumped him, and Keselowski ran out of time.

Johnson went on to win the race by doing what he always does, stay out of trouble.

Here are the race stats provided by our friends at NASCAR:

 

Lap length: 1 mile

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (4) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400 laps, 148.3 rating, 48 points, $331,626.

2. (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400, 111.8, 43, $245,113.

3. (21) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400, 114.5, 42, $218,416.

4. (10) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, 100.7, 41, $177,396.

5. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, 103, 39, $136,880.

6. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 400, 87.6, 38, $144,878.

7. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 400, 93.5, 37, $154,828.

8. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 400, 100, 36, $146,036.

9. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400, 104.3, 35, $115,595.

10. (15) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 400, 92.7, 34, $133,559.

11. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400, 85.5, 33, $132,530.

12. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, 87.8, 32, $140,496.

13. (19) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 400, 76.7, 31, $135,999.

14. (29) Carl Edwards, Ford, 400, 75.7, 30, $117,510.

15. (6) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, 109.5, 29, $145,446.

16. (27) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 400, 68.6, 28, $126,630.

17. (8) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 399, 105.5, 28, $137,418.

18. (24) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 399, 75.4, 26, $98,960.

19. (17) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 399, 83.9, 25, $114,035.

20. (23) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398, 74, 24, $144,021.

21. (11) A J Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 397, 65.5, 23, $115,268.

22. (18) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 396, 53.2, 22, $104,460.

23. (28) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 396, 56.7, 21, $103,810.

24. (38) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 396, 49.9, 20, $111,318.

25. (22) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 395, 60.1, 19, $117,243.

26. (30) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 395, 46, 18, $113,493.

27. (31) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 394, 49.1, 17, $93,185.

28. (33) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 390, 45.7, 16, $92,635.

29. (32) David Gilliland, Ford, 388, 45.7, 15, $109,532.

30. (43) Blake Koch, Ford, 388, 30.8, 0, $90,835.

31. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 387, 64.4, 13, $97,185.

32. (41) Ryan Truex, Toyota, 387, 34.4, 12, $89,010.

33. (42) Dave Blaney, Ford, 383, 30.4, 11, $88,860.

34. (36) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 382, 32, 0, $88,660.

35. (39) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 378, 52.1, 9, $88,435.

36. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 350, 37.1, 8, $96,335.

37. (40) David Stremme, Chevrolet, overheating, 297, 37.7, 7, $88,151.

38. (12) Greg Biffle, Ford, 292, 62.5, 6, $127,110.

39. (37) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, engine, 232, 30, 0, $78,535.

40. (35) Alex Bowman, Toyota, accident, 208, 30.6, 4, $74,535.

41. (26) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, accident, 131, 47.1, 3, $106,360.

42. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, accident, 125, 93, 3, $120,176.

43. (9) Brian Vickers, Toyota, engine, 73, 50.1, 1, $95,110.

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Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 117.724 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 23 minutes, 52 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.885 seconds.

Caution Flags: 8 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes: 18 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Ky.Busch 1-81; J.Johnson 82-126; C.Bowyer 127; J.Johnson 128-139; K.Harvick 140-158; M.Kenseth 159; K.Harvick 160-164; M.Kenseth 165-177; J.Johnson 178-222; M.Kenseth 223; J.Johnson 224-240; M.Kenseth 241; J.Johnson 242-322; M.Kenseth 323; J.Johnson 324-361; B.Keselowski 362; C.Bowyer 363-366; J.Johnson 367-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): J.Johnson, 7 times for 272 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 81 laps; K.Harvick, 2 times for 24 laps; M.Kenseth, 5 times for 17 laps; C.Bowyer, 2 times for 5 laps; B.Keselowski, 1 time for 1 lap.

Wins: K.Harvick, 2; J.Johnson, 2; J.Logano, 2; Ku.Busch, 1; Ky.Busch, 1; D.Earnhardt Jr., 1; C.Edwards, 1; J.Gordon, 1; D.Hamlin, 1; Bra.Keselowski, 1.

Top 12 in Points: 1. M.Kenseth, 463; 2. J.Gordon, 461; 3. C.Edwards, 438; 4. J.Johnson, 436; 5. D.Earnhardt Jr., 429; 6. J.Logano, 414; 7. Ky.Busch, 411; 8. Brad.Keselowski, 404; 9. D.Hamlin, 379; 10. K.Larson, 377; 11. R.Newman, 374; 12. K.Harvick, 373.

 

 

 

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