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 
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