Johnson claims perfect score at Dover

Jimmie Johnson claimed a perfect score and brought his NASCAR Cup title defence back on track with a commanding victory at Dover on Sunday

Johnson claims perfect score at Dover

The reigning champion started from pole, led the most laps and went on to win for the sixth time at the track known as the 'Monster Mile', moving to second in the Chase standings after a poor race at Loudon last week.

While two of the main title contenders, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, had altercations both on and off the track during the weekend, Johnson and his team placed all their focus on the job at hand and ended up taking all the points they needed to get back in championship contention.

AJ Allmendinger proved to have the measure of Johnson in the first part of the race and led plenty of laps before being forced to make an early pitstop for a deflating tyre.

After that, Kyle Busch looked as the only real threat to Johnson once he stole the lead from him in the pits, but despite a modest day for the Hendrick Motorsports crew, Johnson did enough to make up for it and went on to reclaim the lead and hold it until the checkered flag.

"I'm excited about what we have ahead," said Johnson. "Last weekend; anything can happen. I know Talladega is out there. We did a great job today. We're in the right position but we've got to keep this Impala fast and be there after Talladega. That's the goal. So we did the best thing possible [today]. I'm very, very excited about today."

Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton finished second but his team-mates were unable to get in contention at the front following poor qualifying efforts. Bowyer struggled with balance, hit the wall, got a pit speeding penalty and finished 25th. Meanwhile Harvick never quite managed to get the proper handling on his #29 Chevrolet and finished 15th.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano was third behind Burton, while his team-mate Kyle Busch dropped down to sixth place after looking a contender for victory. Hamlin was ninth and scored well enough to remain in the Chase lead by 35 points, the biggest margin ever held after two races in the play-off.

"It was a decent day," said Hamlin. "I said in my head today that the number was eight. We missed it by one, but it was a good fight for the team. We didn't have the best car today, but we fought through and made something of it. This is what we needed to do to get by this weekend and we feel like we can run with them from here on out."

Penske's Kurt Busch recovered from a pit speeding penalty to finish fourth ahead of Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards, whose team-mate Matt Kenseth looked set for a good result until he locked up the brakes while trying to enter the pits under green, causing the left-front tyre to explode and massively damage the bodywork on his #17 Ford.

Tony Stewart was another Chase contender to hit trouble with an early pit speeding penalty which put him off the lead lap. He was unable to recover after that and just managed a 21st place in the end

Allmendinger recovered in the final two stints of the race to finish inside the top 10, while his team-mate Paul Menard rounded a good showing for Richard Petty Motorsports taking seventh at the flag.

"It was fun to lead, no wonder Jimmie is smiling so much. It's actually a lot of fun to lead," said Allmendinger. "The car was dialed in and just a stupid five-cent washer got inside the tyre. I'm not sure when. It must have been right when we pitted and left the pits. I knew the right-rear was going down and after that you're just fighting back the rest of the day."

After two Chase races Greg Biffle, Stewart, Kenseth and Bowyer - whose appeal against his Loudon penalties is pending - are already more than 140 points off from points leader Hamlin.

Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 400 2. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 400 3. Joey Logano Toyota 400 4. Kurt Busch Dodge 400 5. Carl Edwards Ford 400 6. Kyle Busch Toyota 400 7. Paul Menard Ford 400 8. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 400 9. Denny Hamlin Toyota 400 10. AJ Allmendinger Ford 400 11. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 400 12. Mark Martin Chevrolet 400 13. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 400 14. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 400 15. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 400 16. Reed Sorenson Toyota 400 17. Elliott Sadler Ford 399 18. Matt Kenseth Ford 399 19. Greg Biffle Ford 399 20. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 399 21. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 398 22. Brad Keselowski Dodge 398 23. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 397 24. David Ragan Ford 397 25. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 397 26. Regan Smith Chevrolet 397 27. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 397 28. Kasey Kahne Ford 396 29. Casey Mears Toyota 395 30. David Gilliland Ford 395 31. Tony Raines Ford 394 32. Scott Speed Toyota 393 33. Travis Kvapil Ford 388 34. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 383 35. David Reutimann Toyota 373 36. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 349 37. Kevin Conway Toyota 129 38. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 126 39. Michael McDowell Dodge 71 40. Mike Bliss Toyota 60 41. Joe Nemechek Toyota 58 42. JJ Yeley Dodge 43 43. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 29 
Hamlin unflustered by Harvick feud
Previous article

Hamlin unflustered by Harvick feud

Next article

Bowyer's Loudon appeal denied

Bowyer's Loudon appeal denied
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Plus

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson’s journey to the 2021 NASCAR Cup title comes straight from the Hollywood blockbuster scripts. While Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons

Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

Feb 12, 2021