Seventh heaven for Johnson at Dover|
Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Jimmie Johnson claimed his seventh win at Dover
International Speedway with a dominating performance in Sunday's FedEx 400, a
race that featured a big crash in the opening laps.
Johnson led 289 laps, including the final 76, in the 400-lap race. He crossed
the finish line 2.6 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick to place him in a tie with
NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most all-time wins
at this one-mile, concrete-surfaced racetrack.
The five-time Sprint Cup Series champion also claimed his second win of the
season and the 57th of his career.
"Clearly, we had a fast race car, amazing pit stops," Johnson said. "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."
Johnson wore a multi-colored wig during his celebration in Dover's Victory
Lane. His Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet donned a special paint scheme
promoting the upcoming movie "Madagascar."
"I'm just proud of this hair," he said. "The hair really brought some speed to
the team. I could see our engine tuner who is catching the front tires that
came across on pit stops, and I got a laugh every time I came on to pit road."
A Hendrick Motorsports driver has won the last four Sprint Cup races. Last
month, Johnson claimed his first win of the season at Darlington and then took
the checkered flag for the all-star event at Charlotte. Kasey Kahne won the
600-mile race at Charlotte last weekend.
The 12-car wreck -- the biggest one this season so far -- occurred on lap nine
when defending series champion Tony Stewart made contact with Landon Cassill
coming out of turn two and then both drivers spun around. Regan Smith, who was
running right behind Stewart, also spun, which triggered the melee on the
"I didn't actually feel (Stewart) touch me," Cassill said. "Tony is one of the
most patient drivers, especially in this part of the race...He's one of the
best. It's just too bad it tore up that many race cars."
NASCAR stopped the race for 20 minutes to remove several damaged cars that
clogged the backstretch. There were no injuries in the incident.
Stewart returned to the track later but finished 69 laps behind in 25th.
"The No. 83 (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 fault. He was right behind me and didn't have anywhere to go either.
So it's just not a real good deal at the beginning of the race like this."
Smith also came back onto the track, while Cassill's car was damaged beyond
"I got into the back of the No. 14 (Stewart) and started the whole thing,"
Smith said. "I will take full blame for that. Somehow they got checked up in
front of me. I just didn't have time to get slowed up with it."
Harvick bounced back from a pit road blunder which occurred just after the
halfway point. He overshot his pit stall during a caution and lost valuable
track position at the time.
"I made a mistake on pit road there and got us back to about 20th," Harvick
said. "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."
Matt Kenseth finished third, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded
out the top-five.
Aric Almirola placed sixth, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kahne
and Marcos Ambrose.
Jeff Gordon led the second most laps with 60 and was contention to win this
race until he experienced a loose left-rear tire, forcing him to make an
unexpected pit stop in the late-stages. Gordon was not a factor from there, as
he finished 13th.
"In some ways we got fortunate today," Gordon said. "I could have stayed out
there and wrecked because, it wasn't really vibrating. It was getting real
Despite an 11th-place finish, Greg Biffle remained atop the point standings.
Biffle's advantage is only one point over his Roush Fenway Racing teammate,
"I feel good about our position," Kenseth said. "Early in the year, you want
to be as high as you can in the points. Obviously if we make the Chase, they
rack up by wins, and so that's really what you look at right now."
Earnhardt Jr. is third in points (-10), followed by Denny Hamlin (-22), who
finished 18th at Dover, and Johnson (-33).
06/03 18:50:52 ET