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Johnson Scary Fast In Winning At The Monster

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 3 2012

Jimmie Johnson got the victory at Dover on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

Jimmie Johnson dominated the FedEx 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday and won for the second time in two weeks.

Johnson, who won at Darlington two weeks ago, easily held of Kevin Harvick to get the victory.

The victory was the 57th of the five-time champion’s Cup career. It was the seventh of the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s career at the Monster Mile.

Johnson lead 289 of the 400 laps on Sunday.

Harvick, in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, finished second – 2.5 seconds behind Johnson. The finish was the best of Harvick’s career at Dover.

Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing was third while Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports was fourth.

“It was OK,” Kenseth, who moved to within one point of leader and teammate Greg Biffle, said of his day. “We really honestly struggled and didn’t have quite the setup that we needed. My team did a good job of getting good pit stops and making some adjustments to keep us in the game there. I am happy to come home third with a car that didn’t drive the way we wanted it to.”

Clint Bowyer was fifth in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

Rounding out the top 10 were Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose.

Pole-sitter Mark Martin led the first 26 laps of the race but was passed by Johnson, who started second, after that. Martin took the lead back on lap 60 – shortly before the start of green-flag pit stops.

After the pitting cycled through, Martin was back in the lead. Martin again lost his lead to Johnson on lap 85.

After taking the lead, Johnson slowly pulled away and by lap 110, had a 2.5-second advantage over Martin’s Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

But on lap 111, David Reutimann blew an engine and brought out the yellow flag. When the race went green on lap 117, Johnson still had his lead ahead of Martin.

Johnson again pulled away and on lap 150, had a 2.3-second lead over teammate Jeff Gordon.

Gordon began moving in on Johnson but on lap 164, Carl Edwards’ tire blew and the car hit the wall to bring out a yellow.

“Our front right tire went flat,” Edwards, who was running top 10 at the time, said. “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 kept the lead through pit stops and led the field to green on lap 169.

Johnson held the lead until he was tracked down and passed by Gordon on lap 211. Gordon quickly stretched his lead to over a second and a half and was solidly in out front when debris brought out a caution on lap 226.

The leaders pitted and Gordon came out first with Johnson right behind. Gordon again ran away, building a 1.5-second lead after 10 laps.

But on lap 243, Gordon’s car slowed with a vibration and Johnson blew past for the lead. A couple laps later, Gordon was in free fall and on lap 251, headed to the pits.

“We had the car to win,” a disappointed Gordon said.

Johnson then ran away from the field.

On lap 292 of the 400-mile event, green-flag pitting began. Johnson came in on lap 293 with a 4-second lead.

When the pitting cycled through, Gordon had the lead as a result of his having to pit out of sequence.

Gordon kept the lead until having to pit with 76 laps to go. When he pitted, Johnson took the lead back once again.

With 60 laps to go, debris brought out a caution and the leaders pitted. Gordon stayed out and took the wave around to get back on the lead lap but Johnson again came out in the lead.

A lap after the restart, Kurt Busch’s car blew an engine to bring out another caution.

Johnson moved out to a 1-second lead over Harvick after the restart. But with 36 laps left, Jeff Burton’s engine blew and the caution flag waved again.  The top eight drivers stayed out while most of the other lead-lap cars pitted.

The race restarted with 31 laps to go. From there, Johnson cruised to the finish.

Defending series champion Tony Stewart was one of 13 drivers whose hopes for a victory were marred in a lap-nine wreck. Stewart and Landon Cassill started the big wreck when they got together side-to-side. Stewart was then hit from behind and suffered major damage.

“The No. 83 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. Just not a real good deal at the beginning of the race like this.”

Biffle finished 11th – just high enough to keep his point lead.

“It was tough,” Biffle said. “We just fought balance all day. I would be a little loose in, real loose in the center and then plowing tight. We could never close that gap. I could make it way too tight and so loose that I couldn’t drive it, but I could never balance the middle and off and in. I just couldn’t get the balance right. But we finished 11th and I wish I would have stayed out at the end. I came in and got tires and I thought more guys would come. We pitted ninth and finished 11th, so that probably wasn’t too smart.”


1. (2) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400, $319,411.

2. (6) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400, $250,001.

3. (5) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 400, $201,601.

4. (17) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $142,340.

5. (4) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, $147,904.

6. (12) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, $148,426.

7. (18) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400, $140,204.

8. (11) Joey Logano, Toyota, 400, $115,465.

9. (13) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400, $110,015.

10. (21) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 400, $128,598.

11. (7) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400, $106,205.

12. (16) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 400, $132,525.

13. (14) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $139,591.

14. (1) Mark Martin, Toyota, 400, $101,480.

15. (3) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400, $135,613.

16. (23) AJ Allmendinger, Dodge, 400, $134,280.

17. (20) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 400, $100,805.

18. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, $133,121.

19. (24) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 400, $122,138.

20. (22) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 399, $117,788.

21. (28) David Ragan, Ford, 398, $105,938.

22. (15) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, Engine, 364, $127,905.

23. (42) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 348, $115,738.

24. (9) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Engine, 338, $107,588.

25. (29) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 331, $137,705.

26. (19) Carl Edwards, Ford, 318, $129,846.

27. (26) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 306, $103,702.

28. (31) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 296, $115,496.

29. (8) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Engine, 202, $129,563.

30. (38) Reed Sorenson, Ford, Accident, 124, $94,705.

31. (39) David Reutimann, Chevrolet, Engine, 110, $84,555.

32. (41) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, Accident, 65, $81,905.

33. (32) David Stremme, Toyota, Overheating, 63, $81,755.

34. (34) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Overheating, 41, $81,555.

35. (37) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, Accident, 29, $90,830.

36. (36) Mike Bliss, Toyota, Steering, 23, $81,205.

37. (43) Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, Vibration, 21, $81,035.

38. (27) Landon Cassill, Toyota, Accident, 9, $107,272.

39. (35) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, Accident, 9, $77,485.

40. (30) David Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 9, $77,325.

41. (40) Casey Mears, Ford, Accident, 8, $77,145.

42. (33) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 8, $77,065.

43. (25) Scott Speed, Ford, Accident, 8, $77,438.


Average Speed of Race Winner: 122.835 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 15 Mins, 23 Secs.

Margin of Victory: 2.550 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 32 laps.

Lead Changes: 17 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: M. Martin 0; J. Johnson 1-6; M. Martin 7-29; J. Johnson 30-60; M. Martin 61-70; M. Kenseth 71; D. Ragan 72-74; M. Martin 75-84; J. Johnson 85-210; J. Gordon 211-227; J. Johnson 228; J. Gordon 229-244; J. Johnson 245-293; M. Kenseth 294; D. Earnhardt Jr. 295; D. Hamlin 296-297; J. Gordon 298-324; J. Johnson 325-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): J. Johnson 6 times for 289 laps; J. Gordon 3 times for 60 laps; M. Martin 3 times for 43 laps; D. Ragan 1 time for 3 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; M. Kenseth 2 times for 2 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: G. Biffle – 486; M. Kenseth – 485; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 476; D. Hamlin – 464; J. Johnson – 453; M. Truex Jr. – 441; K. Harvick – 440; T. Stewart – 407; Kyle Busch – 406; C. Bowyer – 405; B. Keselowski – 400; C. Edwards – 390.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 3 2012
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