Jimmie Johnson wins at Dover
By Jessica Ruffin
DOVER, Del. – After leading 268 laps at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway, Johnson lined up first for the final restart of the night with four laps to go. When the green flag waved, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS held onto his top position to take the checkered flag for the second straight week. This marks the first time Johnson has won back-to-back races since 2012.
Johnson’s race-high 272 laps led broke Hall of Famer Bobby Allison’s all-time record of 2,801 laps led at the Monster Mile. With his win today, Johnson also remains the all-time leader at Dover with nine career wins. Hendrick Motorsports now has 16 wins at Dover and 222 Sprint Cup victories, a record in the modern era of racing.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined his teammate Johnson in the top nine, while Gordon and Kahne experienced handling issues and held on to finish 15th and 19th, respectively.
Here is a look at how the Hendrick Motorsports teams fared in the 400-mile event:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
RACE FINISH: 19th
RECAP: After rolling off the grid 17th at the Monster Mile, Kasey Kahne immediately began his forward march. By Lap 15, the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS had moved up five positions and by Lap 50, he had cracked the top 10. Kahne continued to quietly maneuver his Chevy SS through the field, moving into the seventh position by Lap 83. A four-tire stop at Lap 158 put Kahne behind drivers who opted for a two-tire change, but fresh tires proved beneficial as the race unfolded. By Lap 216, Kahne had climbed back into the top seven at the Monster Mile. An efficient yellow-flag pit stop at Lap 222 allowed Kahne to gain two positions, as he joined his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in the top five. Unfortunately, Kahne’s Chevy SS became looser during his run, causing him to fall back six positions by the time the caution flag was waved at Lap 239. By Lap 273, he was running 16th and held on to finish 19th at the Monster Mile.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
RACE FINISH: 15th
RECAP: After qualifying sixth at the 400-mile event, Jeff Gordon had no intentions of letting go of his top-10 position. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS moved into the top five by Lap 49 and was running third before the caution flag was waved at Lap 65. Gordon continued to race in the top 10, but told crew chief Alan Gustafson that his car felt “edgy.” To combat the handling issue, Gordon made a trip down pit road when the caution flag was waved at Lap 125 for fuel, tires and an adjustment. He lined up his No. 24 Chevy SS fourth for the restart after a 22-minute clean-up delay. Gordon held onto his top-five position during the restart and cracked the top three by Lap 186. He moved into the runner-up position nine laps later and continued to race in the top five with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Unfortunately, Gordon began to fall in the ranks after restarting fifth with 35 laps to go. He held on to finish 15th at the concrete oval.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS
RACE FINISH: First
RECAP: Last weekend’s win at Charlotte (North Carolina) Motor Speedway seemed to give Johnson plenty of momentum, as he rolled off the grid fourth at the 400-mile event. By Lap 48, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS had cracked the top three and didn’t stop there. He continued to move up through the field, taking the second position by Lap 62 and ultimately moving into the top position by Lap 82. After pacing the field for 57 laps, Johnson continued to battle for the top position. While the four-tire change at Lap 158 put Johnson down several positions prior to the red-flag delay, the fresh tires seemed to give Johnson the momentum he needed. He took back the top position by Lap 178, pacing the field for 181 laps. He lost the lead briefly after a four-tire stop at Lap 362, but a solid restart put him back in the front with 33 laps to go. He continued to lead the remainder of the race and crossed the Monster Mile finish line first for the ninth time in his career.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
RACE FINISH: Ninth
RECAP: Dale Earnhardt Jr. began Sunday’s 400-mile event from the 13th position and did not stay out of the top 10 for long. By Lap 12, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard had cracked the top 10 and continued his forward march. An efficient pit stop at Lap 67 allowed Earnhardt to gain two positions and he lined up his Chevy SS fifth for the restart at Lap 71. A handling condition caused him to fall back several positions in the field, but Earnhardt seemed undeterred. By Lap 142, he was running ninth, giving credit to his No. 88 pit crew for his good running position. “Our pit stalls have been out of control today. And that’s a compliment,” Earnhardt said during the second red-flag delay of the day. Earnhardt restarted 10th after the 22-minute delay and propelled his No. 88 Chevy SS to the front, cracking the top five at Lap 176. He passed a competitor for third at Lap 215, completing the trio of Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top three. He continued to race in the top 10 and finished ninth at the one-mile oval.