Matts Dover Recap
September 22, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The Key Moment
The lapped car of Sterling Marlin slowed Jimmie Johnson up just enough with a handful of laps Mark Martin got to the 48’s rear bumper, but then Marlin slowed up Martin a bit too, sealing the win for Jimmie.
In a Nutshell
What Marlin giveth Marlin taketh. Another dominant performance by Jimmie Johnson.
During those last five laps it looked like an actual race might break out.
Any restart at Dover is fraught with danger and excitement.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Will Jimmie Johnson break Tony Stewart’s rookie victory mark of three wins? Could we really have a rookie Winston Cup champion? Even odder could Johnson win the Cup and lose the Rookie of the Year battle?
Is Chad Knaus going to get fined for his post-race interview profanity?
Those Chevys seem to be running OK so since they got the nose job, no?
Jeez. Which happens more, Jerry Nadeau triggering a wreck or Ward Burton getting caught up in a wreck not of his own making? Today both events occurred at the same time to save time.
Wonder what’s going to happen when the Grand Jury meets Tuesday to decide if Tony Stewart gets charged?
Should they have let that Hideo Fukuyama guy out on the track at all? Man, unfortunate name isn’t it?
So will Scott Wimmer win again before the season is over? When’s the last time an unsponsored car went to Victory Lane in a top league NASCAR race?
Do you think in retrospect Alan Bestwick wishes he hadn’t said Martin was sizing up Johnson?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Rusty Wallace was unable to capitalize on his pole position. Despite running strong most of the event, Wallace blew a right front tire and slapped the wall. Wasn’t he the guy who wanted Goodyear to bring softer tires to this race?
Dale Earnhardt Junior had a dominant car early but to say the 8 car lost the handle would be an understatement of unprecedented magnitude. It’s a race to see who loses their job first Tony Eury or Jimmy Makar.
Jeff Gordon was just in the wrong place at the wrong time deep within the Bodine Zone.
Sterling Marlin’s car was so slow it was almost as if Dodge’s German overlords insisted the team run a Mercedes diesel engine this weekend.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Tony Stewart felt his engine had developed a miss but was able to bring the car home 5th. His teammate Bobby Labonte lost an engine earlier in the event.
Ryan Newman spun out and didn’t hit anything, a near impossibility at Dover. He recovered well enough to finish eighth.
Only eight cars were on the lead lap at the end of the race, and four of them belonged to Jack Roush.
It’s the Pits
Jimmy Johnson’s team played a vital role in his victory getting their boy off pit road fastest during the final round of pit stops.
Rusty Wallace’s team had two very poor stops early in the race that really hurt his effort.
Mike Skinner hit his own jackman on pit road.
Mark Martin qualified so poorly that his team elected to make a two tire stop under the second caution flag to give Mark some track position. Had they gone with four tires very likely Martin would have gotten a piece of the same wreck that ruined Jeff Gordon’s day.
Was it not for the 25 points the 48 team was docked after the Firecracker 400, Johnson would be five points behind Mark Martin.
Jeff Burton now has six finishes this season of sixth place or better. He’s finished sixth three times and finished in the top six in both races at Dover.
Since winning two consecutive races Jeff Gordon has failed to finish in the top ten in the last three events. Sterling Marlin has also gone three races without a top ten finish. Rusty Wallace’s top ten drought is now at four races.
Matt Kenseth now has three straight top 10 finishes and top 10s in four of the last five Winston Cup races.
Johnson becomes the eighth different driver to win both races at Dover in a single season. The last driver to do so was Tony Stewart in 2000.
The pole he won on Friday was Rusty’s Wallace’s first since Phoenix in November of 2000. (Wallace won a total of nine poles that year.)
Johnny Benson now has two straight top 10 finishes.
Brett Bodine missed his first race since 2000 this weekend.
Ward Burton has now finished 30th or worse in thirteen of twenty-eight races this season. Those finishes include a pair of 42nds and a pair of 43rds including a last place result at Dover Sunday.
Rookies have now won four of twenty eight (one in seven) Winston Cup races this season.
What’s the Points?
Mark Martin remains the points leader but loses ten points to Jimmie Johnson. (Johnson led the most laps Sunday.) The margin is now down to thirty points. But there seems to be some sort of curse each week on whichever driver enters the race second in the points standings.
Sterling Marlin’s bad afternoon dropped him two positions to fourth in the standings. Bill Elliott’s lackluster day also cost him two spots and Bill is now in ninth in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth all gained a spot in the standings. They now sit second, fourth,seventh and eighth respectively.
Just outside the top ten Kurt Busch and Dale Jarrett swapped eleventh and twelfth spots, with DJ now having the advantage.
Anyone of the top four drivers (Martin, Johnson, Stewart and Marlin) could leave Kansas with the points lead. This week six drivers had that opportunity.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Three and a half cans of somewhat cold Pabst. There were two racing grooves but two dominant cars that stunk up the show late.
Going to Kansas City,
Kansas City here we come,
Got too little banking in the corners there,
Whoever designed this joint sure was dumb.