Jimmie Johnson takes another Dover NASCAR Sprint Cup win as Hendrick triumphs again
|By Diego Mejia||Monday, June 4th 2012, 02:08 GMT|
Jimmie Johnson claimed his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Dover by dominating Sunday's race at the 'Monster Mile' to continue Hendrick Motorsports' winning streak.
The five-time Cup champion led almost two thirds of the race distance on the way to his second win of the season and his third in the past four weeks, counting his All-Star win at Charlotte.
The Californian was challenged by polesitter Mark Martin early on but as the race entered the second half it was Johnson's team-mate Jeff Gordon who rose to be his main opponent, and actually took the lead on lap 211.
However as Gordon hit trouble with a loose wheel during a pitstop - forcing an unscheduled green-flag stop - Johnson was left without a major challenge in the decisive stages with Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick following him to the chequered flag in a distant second.
"Obviously, I had an amazing [car] to drive today," said Johnson. "I think that #24 [Gordon] was the car to beat. He had two tenths on us but he had some troubles.
"I think the way we protected the win was pitroad. Last week was hard on us but this week these guys stepped up and did it every time I was on pitroad."
Harvick's second place, his best career result at Dover, came following a delayed stop after he missed his stall when he was running third.
Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth finished third, closing to within a single point of the lead in the standings. His team-mate Greg Biffle did not enjoy a competitive afternoon but bounced back in the second half of the race to almost make it into the top 10.
Hendrick's Dale Earnhardt Jr carried his solid streak of finishing every race on the lead lap this season with fourth, while his team-mate Kasey Kahne was a top-10 finisher for a seventh consecutive week in ninth.
Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five in yet another good day for his outfit, his team-mate Martin Truex Jr taking seventh while polesitter Martin struggled to reproduce his early speed into the closing laps and came home 14th.
Gordon eventually finished 13th, as cautions did not fall his way after his wheel issue left him two laps down. Although he eventually got back in the lead of the race, a caution for debris once he had pitted for the last time allowed the leaders to complete their final stops under caution, preventing Gordon from getting back in contention.
"It's always more frustrating when you've got a car that can win; and you show it by going up there and taking the lead," said a disappointed Gordon, now 21st in the points. "We don't care about finishing top 15 or top 10 right now. That does nothing for us. We need wins."
Following a number of races with very few incidents, Sunday's event saw a multi-car pile-up as early as lap eight.
The incident was ignited by contact between reigning champion Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas), who was forced to the garage for lengthy repairs, and BK Racing's Landon Cassill. It involved another 11 cars and caused the race to be red-flagged.
Four cars succumbed to engine failures, one of them being Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, who was a top-five contender at the time. Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards also saw a strong run cut short by a deflating tyre, which put him in the wall as he was charging through the top 10.
Results - 400 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 3h15m23.000s 2. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 2.550s 3. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 4.145s 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 4.993s 5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 5.607s 6. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 6.951s 7. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 7.263s 8. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 7.811s 9. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 7.957s 10. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 9.077s 11. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 9.718s 12. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 10.649s 13. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 11.197s 14. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 11.325s 15. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 13.429s 16. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 14.103s 17. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 14.585s 18. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 14.758s 19. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 17.911s 20. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 1 lap 21. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 2 laps Retirements: Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 364 laps Travis Kvapil* BK Toyota 348 laps Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 338 laps Tony Stewart* Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 331 laps Carl Edwards* Roush Fenway Ford 318 laps Regan Smith* Furniture Row Chevrolet 306 laps Juan Pablo Montoya* Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 296 laps Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 202 laps Reed Sorenson FAS Lane Ford 124 laps David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 110 laps Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 65 laps David Stremme Inception Toyota 63 laps JJ Yeley BK Toyota 41 laps Stephen Leicht Circle Sport Chevrolet 29 laps Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 23 laps Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 21 laps Landon Cassill BK Toyota 9 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 9 laps David Gilliland Front Row Ford 9 laps Casey Mears Germain Ford 8 laps Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 8 laps Scott Speed Go Green Ford 8 laps * Running again at chequered flag