Dover, DE – With his sixth Dover win in the books, Jimmie Johnson surges in the NASCAR Chase Championship point’s battle to second just 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. The No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet team demonstrated their desire to win a fifth straight title and that six wins in 2010 are just the beginning.
Johnson earned his 53rd career victory in the 40th running of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. This was his 319 career start. “Obviously, the weekend we would dream of,” said Johnson. “winning the pole, leading the most laps, and winning the race.”
“There are eight races left in the Chase and the points can shake up a lot,” Johnson said. “We want to win five in a row; we want to win this championship.” And well he is pleased to have won the race; Johnson is keeping his sights set on the bigger prize.
In the interim, he got to celebrate with his daughter for the first time in victory lane. The first caution of the race came around lap 38, when a safety light blew on the back straightaway. David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing drew the second caution after a spin in turn four. Back to racing and it was A.J. Allmendinger leading the way. At one point, Allmendinger opened up a six second lead on local favorite Martin Truex Jr.
Following a tire issue, Allmendinger would be relegated to mid pack. Allmendinger lead 143 laps in Sunday’s race, the most in one event. “Everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports is building great race cars and Doug Yates and all those guys are bringing a lot of horsepower,” he said. “We’re getting really good at fighting back and making good finishes out of a problem that happens.”
During green flag pit stops, Chase contender Tony Stewart was penalized with a drive thru penalty for being too fast entering pit road. He finished two laps down in 21st. The weekend woes for Clint Bowyer continued as he hit the wall. And then following the race, Bowyer’s Chevrolet was tagged for a return trip to the R& D Center. The RCR appeal is set to be heard this week on his New Hampshire penalty.
Cautions also flew for debris following two incidents with Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, respectively, during Sunday’s race.
Rounding out the top five was Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. Burton’s stellar performance was attributed to his team’s ability to change with the track. “We thought we had a really good racecar coming into the race today,” he said. In true ‘Tony the Tiger’ fashion, Burton gave props to the No. 48 team. “They’re not good, they’re great! They’ve been in the hunt. I think there as seasoned as you can possibly be together.”
The top 10 included Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and A.J. Allmendinger. Kevin Conway was the highest finishing rookie in 37th place.
The top five contenders in the Chase for the Championship are separated by a mere 65 points. Kyle Busch is third followed by his brother Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. Denny Hamlin leads the pack with a total of 5368 points, and is satisfied to be leaving Dover in his mist with a thirty-five point cushion.
“I think there is going to be a handful of guys running for the championship in Homestead,” Hamlin said. The 14 can light things up at anytime. This is the most wide open chase that we’ve had so far.”
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway.
|4||32||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||160||0||300||Running|
|10||15||77||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||134||0||300||Running|
|20||16||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||103||0||300||Running|