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CONCORD, N.C. – Starting last Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway just inside the top 20, Jimmie Johnson steadily gained ground throughout both of the first two stages.

He finished Stage 1 in eighth and jumped up to fourth by the end of Stage 2, picking up a combined 10 extra points for the results.

But early in the final segment, Johnson headed to pit road from inside the top five during a caution. He was one of just four drivers to stop during the caution, and it pushed him outside of the top 10.

“We pitted and we expected a lot more (cars) to come, but they didn’t,” Johnson said. “So, we had to start in the teens and start all over again.”

The driver was able to regain his position inside the top 10 but couldn’t move all the way back into the top five.

“It’s amazing how much faster I was when I was up in third and fourth – just had a half a second of speed on our side due to the cleaner air,” he explained.

Johnson ultimately took the checkered flag ninth.

“All in all, it was a really good day for our Lowe’s for Pros Chevy,” he said. “It was a good-driving car – I was really happy with it.”

Still, with such high expectations, particularly at a Dover venue where Johnson has won a record 11 times, the driver and his team were looking for a little more.

But they know one place they can look to continue improving – qualifying.

“Over the years it’s gotten so hard to pass and the cars are so aero-dependent that starting 19th like we did wasn’t helpful, and then there were a couple of other things that put us back that haven’t been helpful,” he said of the Dover result. “If we can get our Fridays sorted out and start closer to the front, we’ll have much better finishes.”