DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson continued his winning ways by picking up his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the 2012 season after he drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet to Victory Lane on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Sunday’s win at Dover marks the third straight Cup win for Hendrick Motorsports this season. Johnson nabbed the organization’s 200th win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 12, while Kasey Kahne earned his first victory as the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet during the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 27.
“It was a team effort. Obviously, I had an amazing Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet to drive today,” Johnson said. “I think the way we protected the win was pit road. Last week was hard on us, but this week these guys stepped up and did it every time I was on pit road. Awesome day for this No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet.”
Johnson, who holds at fifth in the driver standings, was joined in the top 13 by teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth), Kasey Kahne (ninth) and Jeff Gordon (13th). Earnhardt now ranks third in the driver standings, Kahne moves into 14th and Gordon improved to 21st.
Johnson lined up from the the outside pole position and charged to take the lead on the first lap. The first caution of the race was thrown eight short laps later and resulted in a red-flag halt to action on the Monster Mile. Approximately 19 minutes later, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates lined up in the top 15 for the restart on Lap 12.
Gordon was the biggest mover early in the race, cracking the top-five on Lap 58 after starting 14th. Earnhardt and Kahne also had strong runs and the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running in the top 10 by Lap 116.
Gordon continued his strong run in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, taking the lead from Johnson on Lap 142. The drivers ran one and two followed closely by Earnhardt in eighth and Kahne in ninth in his No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet. Earnhardt used pit strategy to improve his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet and continued was able to crack the top-five by the halfway point in the 400-mile race.
Johnson resumed the lead when Gordon experienced trouble on Lap 243 and was forced to complete a green-flag pit stop for issues with his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, pushing him two laps down.
Earnhardt moved into second with Gordon’s unscheduled green-flag stop and followed Johnson, who remained in the lead. After the final restart on Lap 369, Earnhardt settled into fourth for his fifth top-five finish of the season while Kahne earned his seventh consecutive top-10 with his ninth-place finish. Smart pit strategy enabled Gordon to rejoin his teammates on the lead lap for his ultimate 13th-place finish.
Johnson led a race-high 289 laps on his way to his seventh win at Dover, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for the most victories at the Monster Mile.
“It’s just a huge honor,” Johnson said of the career milestone. “I’m never one that paid attention to stats. I truthfully never thought I would be a guy that would build up any cool stats and here I am with some pretty cool stats. With legends of our sport and guys that I’ve looked up to. I’m very proud of the seven wins here and to be in that very elite company.”