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Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Johnson Charges From Behind To Win At Dover
DOVER, DE. -- Jimmie Johnson drove like a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Sunday afternoon, storming past two-time champion Tony Stewart with three laps remaining to win the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese at Dover International Speedway.
Johnson literally dominated the event from start to finish with a perfect driver rating (150.0) but had to come from ninth to first in less than 30 laps after the 10th caution of the day slowed the field.
Stewart and several others opted for two tires on the last stop, which sent them back on the track ahead of Johnson, whose team decided to put four fresh tires on his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Stewart did everything possible to keep Johnson behind him but Johnson remained patient and slipped past on the 397th lap of the 400-lap event.
Trailing Johnson and Stewart was Greg Biffle, who led many of the final 27 laps before being passed by the speeding duo.
Matt Kenseth was fourth, followed by Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Mark Martin.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finished 12th after running in the top five at times during the grueling race at the track known as "The Monster Mile”.
It was certainly a monster on this particular Sunday for a number of drivers, including young sensation Kyle Busch, who was running in the top 10 when a loose wheel sent him to the pits for an unscheduled stop. Busch has had a terrible run of luck lately, including a flat tire while leading Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. He also encountered additional bad luck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as mechanical problems kept him out of Victory Lane despite having dominated most of the race.
Several accidents prompted caution periods, the last one involving David Stremme, who had a good run going. David Reutimann was also involved, spinning to avoid hitting Stremme's car broadside.
Jeff Gordon, the points leader heading into the weekend, had a miserable day, losing a lap early on and never recovering. He finished 26th.
Tony Stewart takes over the point lead by 46 points over Gordon, who falls to second. Stewart is the first driver-owner to lead the points since Alan Kulwicki at the end of the 1992 season (Nov. 15, 1992). Johnson is third, followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin.
The sun was playing hide and seek with scattered clouds as the field roared to a raucous start. Pole-sitter Reutimann, who won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race last Monday at Charlotte, carried that momentum for a lap before Juan Pablo Montoya charged ahead for a lap. Reutimann went back out front on Lap 3 but only to lose the lead to Greg Biffle a few laps later.
Things settled in about 10 laps into the race and drivers cautiously continued, knowing a mandatory caution flag would be waved at Lap 30. The mandatory pit stop would allow teams to check tire wear after problems arose during Saturday's races.
When the caution fell, it was Reutimann, Reed Sorenson, Biffle, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kahne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Montoya running in the top.
When the race restarted on Lap 36, Elliott Sadler was the leader. Biffle was next, trailed by Johnson, Reutimann, Sorensen, Kyle Busch, Sorenson, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Kahne and Montoya. Five laps later, Sadler had dropped to 14th spot and Biffle was leading the way.
A second caution slowed the field after a few laps. Tony Raines cut a tire, prompting the caution.
When the race resumed, Johnson was up front with a formidable array of talent in hot pursuit. Biffle was second, followed by Reutimann. Kurt Busch was right behind, trailed by Kahne, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Hornish, Jr., and Jamie McMurray.
At 100 laps, Johnson was leading before everyone made pit stops. A caution came out just as Johnson was completing his stop but he maintained the lead when racing resumed on Lap 130.
Edwards was second, Martin third, Kyle Busch fourth and Tony Stewart fifth. Rounding out the top 10 at that point were Hamlin, Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Casey Mears and Matt Kenseth. Only 25 cars were on the lead lap at that point due to the caution falling before everyone had pitted. Some of the cars losing a lap included Montoya, Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Hornish and McMurray. Kahne, Reutimann and Biffle were also losers as the result of the untimely caution. They were shuffled from the top 10 back to 22nd for Kahne, 24th for Reutimann and 21st for Biffle.
Johnson was consistently laying down laps faster than the field. At 160 laps, it was Johnson, Edwards, Martin, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin, Kenseth, Sorensen and Newman.
Montoya's right front tire let go near Turn 1 on Lap 163, bringing out the caution again. Reutimann was the "lucky dog" recipient, putting the pole-winner back on the lead lap.
At the halfway point, Johnson was in command, followed by Hamlin, Martin, Edwards, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Stewart, Newman, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast - Dover Review click here
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips & Cheese
The Date: Sunday, May 31
The Track: Dover International Speedway (1-mile concrete oval)
The Time: 3 p.m. AT
The Distance: 400 laps/400 miles
TV: FOX & TSN 2:30 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Greg Biffle
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule: Friday – Practice, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying – 3:10 p.m. Saturday – 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
TV Broadcast Times*
Practice: Friday May 29 at 12:30 p.m./SPEED
Qualifying Time Trials: Friday May 29 at 4 p.m./SPEED
Practice: Saturday May 30 at 12:30 p.m./SPEED
Final Practice: Saturday May 22 at 1:30 p.m./SPEED
RaceDay, Pre-Race Show: Sunday May 31 at 12:30 p.m./SPEED
FOX Pre-Race Show: Sunday May 31 at 2:30 p.m./FOX & TSN
Race: Sunday May 31 at 3:15 p.m./FOX & TSN
*Times shown are AT - one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Denny Hamlin paced final practice Saturday with a fast lap of 151.286 mph. Click on the link below for complete final practice results...
Saturday Final Practice Speed Chart click here
David Reutimann won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Autism Speaks 400 with a lap of 22.960 seconds, 156.794 mph.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
NASCAR Newscast - Dover Preview click here
- This is his third pole in 76 starts.
- This is his second pole and seventh top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his first pole in four races at Dover International Speedway.
- Kasey Kahne (second) posted his seventh top-10 start of 2009 and his third in 11 races at Dover
- Juan Pablo Montoya (third) posted his second top-10 start at Dover International Speedway. It is his
fifth in 13 races this season.
- Joey Logano (21st) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Brad Keselowski, Max Papis, Derrike Cope, and David Starr.
After being third-fastest in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday, Jeff Gordon hit the wall in qualifying at Dover
International Speedway and will go to a backup car on Sunday - starting 42nd...
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- Dover Signals Halfway To The Chase...This week’s race at Dover International Speedway marks the 13th stop – halfway – in qualifying for one of the 12 positions in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Statistics covering the five previous years in which the championship has been contested under The Chase format suggest at least 10 drivers among the current top 12 will be in the mix when the Chase begins in September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the past three seasons, only one driver outside the top 12 after the spring Dover race was able to race his way into the Chase. Two drivers in 2004 and 2005 managed to become Chase eligible over the season’s second half.
That, however, was then and this is now.
The 2009 season is one of parity – eight different winners through the first 12 races – with at least nine teams currently having a realistic chance of making the Chase.
No surprise; Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing are current holders of top-12 positions.
But Stewart-Haas Racing, a first-year team, and a resurgent Penske Racing also are represented.
Among the teams within 80 points of the top 12 are Michael Waltrip Racing, for which David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) won its first race May 25 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway; Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Richard Petty Motorsports and Team Red Bull.
There could be a number of new faces in this year’s Chase. Three among the current top 12 and eight of the first 16 were not among last year’s qualifiers.
All four manufacturers stand an excellent chance of taking home the championship trophy. Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota were represented a year ago while Dodge didn’t see a team qualify for the 2008 Chase. But Penske’s Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), the 2004 champion and first to win the title under the Chase format, ranks a solid third on the basis of a win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes.
Last spring’s Dover race proved a microcosm of last year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The topfive finishers – and six of the first seven – all became Chase-eligible. Eventual champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet) finished seventh.
Active winners of the spring race are holders of 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup titles. Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is the only driver with a Dover spring victory in his championship season. Gordon won both in 2001.
- The Monster Mile: Twelve Different Spring Winners And Counting...Dover International Speedway’s spring race is a fan favorite for a variety of reasons but one in particular stands out:
There’s a very good chance someone’s favorite driver may be headed for Victory Lane.
The past 12 editions of the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese have produced 12 different winners. There hasn’t been a repeat winner in the 21st Century. Jeff Gordon is the only double winner since 1996. Gordon’s most recent Dover spring victory came in 2001.
In other words, just about everyone is in the mix when the green flag drops at The Monster Mile.
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) is the defending spring winner at Dover. That makes sense; a year ago, Busch seemed to take the checkered flag just about everywhere he suited up, be it Dover’s concrete, a 1.5-mile track or a road course.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions are well represented among the dozen repeat winners: Gordon; Johnson; Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet); Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford); Bobby Labonte (No. 96 Ask.com Ford); and Dale Jarrett.
Manufacturer winners? Doesn’t matter. All four count victories during the 12-race run with General Motors and Ford tied with five wins apiece.
- Pit Road, Frontstretch Wall Improvements Make Debut At The Monster Mile...Pit road at Dover International Speedway historically has been one of the most difficult, not to mention tightest, on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
During the winter, the track made major improvements to pit road. They include installation of a SAFER barrier supported by a new 1,592-foot concrete wall that wraps from Turn 4 down the frontstretch to near Turn 1.
The new pit wall is 432 feet longer than the previous steel boilerplate wall.
Also eliminated was the grass strip on the frontstretch. That allowed the wall to be placed closer to the track creating four additional feet of room to the width of passing on pit road.
By lengthening the pit wall, the track was able to reconfigure the 43 pit stalls and make them longer in size. The pit boxes are 32 feet long compared with the previous 28-foot measurements.
Thanks to the elimination of some grass in the infield of Turn 4, new apron space was created between Turns 3 and 4 to allow more room for cars to slow down as they approach the pit road entrance.
This also created a new entrance for track emergency service vehicles to enter the speedway from the infield near the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage.
“Turn 4 has always been an action-packed area to sit and now spectators in this area will also get a great view of teams working on pit road,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway.
Kurt Busch, a former series champion, expressed his pleasure with the project.
“When I saw the photos of what the guys at Dover have done, I said, ‘Yeah, way to go guys,’” Busch said. “Great thinking and hard work went into the project.
“I’ve been very fortunate over the years to not be a victim of Dover’s tight pit road. We’ve had our share of run-ins with other cars and the wall that separated pit lane from the track, that’s for sure.”
Busch said he can’t wait to see the new layout in person.
“After all the years of racing there in such tight quarters on pit road it’s hard to visualize what it will be like,” he said. “It will make for safer conditions for sure (and) I think it will also make for better competition, too.”
His crew chief, Pat Tryson, echoes Busch’s thoughts.
“It’s always been a situation of stress and worry anytime you hit pit road there,” Tryson said. “If it was a green-flag pit stop, you worried about your driver getting on pit road without an incident.
“If it was a pit stop under the yellow, you always worried about getting boxed in or crashing with the other cars trying to get out of the pits.”
The new dimensions really caught Tryson’s eye.
“The four feet factor – wider pit lane and longer pit boxes – may not sound like much but you go and ask my guys over the wall there on Sunday,” he said. “They’ll tell you just how much that additional four feet means, I’ll guarantee that.”
- MWR, Reutimann Victory At Lowe’s Motor Speedway Continues Season of ‘Firsts’...Two races; six new winners.
That’s the scorecard in two of the past four points-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup events as a pair of drivers, owners and crew chiefs have gone to Victory Lane for the first time
Brad Keselowski, longtime owner James Finch and crew chief Marc Reno scored an improbable but impressive victory April 26 at Talladega Superspeedway.
This week it was David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip and Rodney Childers hoisting the winner’s trophy at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Reutimann became the latest driver to win a race in all three national series. His previous victories came at Memphis Motorsports Park (NASCAR Nationwide) and Nashville Superspeedway (NASCAR Camping World Trucks).
Michael Waltrip Racing was among the charter Toyota teams when the manufacturer joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2007. MWR, as currently configured, had one top-five finish in its first two seasons – Waltrip’s second-place finish a year ago at New Hampshire.
Reutimann’s previous best, a fourth, came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.
Childers, a NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief since 2005, had won Coors Light poles with Scott Riggs but no previous victories. His call, to keep his driver on-track, proved the winning move when inclement weather ended the Coca-Cola 600 at Lap 227.
“David and I have been in position to win races before (and) had fate take them away from us,” Waltrip said. “So I think of this as a payback.”
Said Reutimann, “It wasn’t the prettiest win but someone has to win these things.”
MWR’s victory was Toyota’s first by a series team other than Joe Gibbs Racing.
- Stewart-Haas Racing’s Roll Continues; Logano Hitting Stride...Tony Stewart didn’t get the finish he’d hoped for but a solid performance by teammate Ryan Newman (No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet) on Monday gave Stewart-Haas Racing yet another reason to be uplifted in its maiden season.
Stewart, bitten by a visit to pit road just before rain ended the race, finished 19th in the Coca-Cola 600.
Newman, however, won the Coors Light Pole for the Lowe’s Motor Speedway event, led five laps and thanks to a no-pit call by crew chief Tony Gibson, finished second.
The performance marked Newman’s fourth consecutive top-five finish.
“For me, this is huge,” he said. “(It’s been a) long time since I had four top fives in a row. The guys are doing a great job with Tony Gibson leading the group.”
Newman predicted that a victory – for himself or teammate and team co-owner Stewart – isn’t far away.
“Same thing as I’ve always said: Put yourself in the right position at the right time and you’ll win,” he said.
The education of Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Joey Logano (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) continues and with the 19-year-old logging his third top-10 finish in the past four races, it appears he’s ready to take the next step a year after joining NASCAR’s national series ranks.
A miserable introduction to Logano’s fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup career all but forgotten, the Connecticut native is not only running well but running at the front of the field.
Logano raced solidly among the top five in Monday’s race before finishing ninth – yet another victim of an ill-timed pit stop.
“This was probably the best run we’ve had since Darlington even,” said Logano, who led his first series laps in the Southern 500. “Overall we learned a lot and we can keep building the momentum here at the No. 20 team.
“Hopefully we can go to Dover and do the same thing again.”
A year ago, Dover marked Logano’s NASCAR Nationwide Series debut. The then-18-year-old finished sixth.
- Many Drivers In Dover International Speedway Field Have Concrete Success...To 17 drivers on this week’s Dover entry list, racing on concrete is no big thing.
Thirteen have gone to Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway. Another four have conquered Bristol Motor Speedway. Five have victories at both tracks.
In sum, they have won 49 times on concrete, 24 of those victories coming at The Monster Mile.
Kyle Busch, this week’s defending race winner, won his second race at Bristol in March. He’ll again do the “triple” – competing in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck AAA Insurance 200, Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Heluva Good! 200 as well as Sunday’s NASCAR Spring Cup Series race.
Busch isn’t the only driver set to do triple duty. Mike Bliss (No. 09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming and Resort Dodge), winner of last week’s NASCAR Nationwide race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, likewise will compete in all three national series.
Ryan Newman, in 2003, was the last driver to win both spring and fall races at Dover International Speedway.
Other active drivers with Dover season sweeps are Jimmie Johnson (2002), Tony Stewart (2000) and Jeff Gordon (1996).
Gordon was the last driver to win three consecutive races (fall 1995-1996).
Harry Gant (1991) is the only driver to win NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Dover on the same weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shop/Tracker Boats Chevrolet), is the only active competitor to post his first victory at The Monster Mile.
Truex won the spring Dover race in 2007 and is a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series winner at the track. He’ll also be racing close to home, hailing from Mayetta, N.J.
- Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin (No. 5 Kellogg’s/Carquest Chevrolet) count the most Dover victories among active drivers with four wins apiece.
Martin is the only driver to win in all three national series at Dover International Speedway. Kyle Busch has won in NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Camping World Trucks, but never in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
- The battle for the 35th spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Championship points – and a guaranteed starting position – continues with the Earnhardt Ganassi No. 34 currently in the position by 41 points over Dietrich Mateschitz’s No. 82. The latter team’s driver, Scott Speed (No. 82 Red Bull Toyota), won last year’s NASCAR Camping world Truck Series AAA Insurance 200.
- This week’s Dover race marks the concluding telecast of the 2009 season by FOX Sports. TNT takes over for a six-race run beginning with the Pocono 500 on June 7.
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