Johnson Dominates at Dover

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson led 289 laps en route to his seventh win at Dover. (Photo: Getty Images)


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DOVER, Del. - Jimmie Johnson scored his seventh career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Dover International Speedway in Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks.

Johnson turned in yet another dominating performance at the one-mile concrete track leading 289 laps.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver joins Bobby Allison and Richard Petty as a seven-time Dover winner. Johnson scored Hendrick’s 202nd career Sprint Cup win and won for the second time in the last three races.

“Just a fun day,” said Johnson. “Clearly we had a fast race car, amazing pit stops. Strategy, when you lead the most laps, sometimes at the end the way the cautions fall it can backfire on the dominant car, and the way cautions fell today, it allowed us to really flex our muscle and bring home the win.

“So, proud of the effort and you know it was a brand new race car we brought to the track. Had never seen a racetrack before and rolled off the truck and awesome all weekend long.”

Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.

“I made a mistake on pit road there and got us back to about 20th,” said Harvick about his rally for a runner-up finish. “The car was good enough to be able to drive back through the pack, and for whatever reason, we were able to adjust our car well today when we needed to and we were able to keep up with the racetrack and keep our car better through the day. And I think that was a big key to getting through the traffic and putting ourselves back in position to at least have a chance.”

Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose completed the first ten finishers.

The race began on a sour note with a 13-car crash that broke out on the backstretch after Tony Stewart and Landon Cassill made contact racing out of turn two. The contact triggered a multi-car accident that before it ended also included Juan Pablo Montoya, Regan Smith, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, Stephen Leicht, Reed Sorenson, David Gilliland, Dave Blaney, David Reutimann and Michael McDowell.

I don’t know if Tony touched me or not,” said Cassill. “He’s one of the very best patient drivers I’ve seen in traffic. There’s nothing that he would have been doing that was impatient or anything like that.

“The exit of the turns are all treacherous here at Dover. That’s the nature of the beast here.”

Stewart didn’t blame anyone for the wreck that was the biggest of the season.

“The No. 83 (of Cassill) was trying to get back down to the bottom and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Stewart said. “It wasn’t Regan’s (Smith) fault.

“He was right behind us and he didn’t have anywhere to go either. (It’s) just not a real good deal at the beginning of the race like this.”

Stewart was upset with his qualifying effort that had him starting 29th and deep in the field.

“You get back there with some of them guys and you’ve just got to be more patient,” Stewart said. “But, as far back as we started, I didn’t really have the luxury to be as patient as I would have liked to have been. (I) just was under a guy and he came down.”

It was also a rough day for another of last season’s championship contenders Carl Edwards. The Roush Fenway Racing driver cut a tire and slapped the wall taking him from contention for a win.

“Our front right tire went flat,” said Edwards who finished 26th. “I don’t know exactly why. This is such a fun race track and the car was so good. Our whole SUBWAY team had done a really good job so far and the hopefully we can get back out there and get some points. It is so frustrating to have that good of a car. I love racing here. We will come back and get them in the fall.”

Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon was another frustrated driver after leading 60 laps and having one of the fastest cars of the day. He rallied back from a cut tire to take the lead in the late stages of the race but had his advantage wiped away when a debris caution flew.

"I know we had the best car," said Gordon who was credited with a 13th place finish. "... It doesn't matter. The fastest car doesn't always win the race. They won the race and we're sitting here 13th or whatever. It's silly.

"I can't wait to see the debris on TV, because I'd like to see it. I certainly never saw it. I'm not going to make any comments until I see what their reasoning was."

Greg Biffle still leads the series standings now by one over Kenseth with Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Johnson the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Pocono Raceway for next Sunday’s Pocono 400.

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