NASCAR: Johnson wins Chase race at Dover
By Dan Gelston
DOVER, Del. ó Jimmie Johnson swept the season races at Dover International Speedway to accelerate his bid for a fourth straight Sprint Cup title.
Johnson cut Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin’s points lead Sunday with the victory ó his fourth of the year and 44th overall ó in the second of 10 races in the Chase for the championship.
“I’m pretty sure that dude is Superman,” Martin said. “I’ve seen that dude up close and I see why he’s so successful. He works harder at it than anybody else, I think, on the circuit.”
No winner of the second Dover race has ever gone on to win the Cup championship. If any driver can reverse that trend, it’s Johnson. Much as he did in May, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet was out in front for the majority of the race.
Chase drivers took nine of the first 11 spots. Martin followed last week’s win at New Hampshire with a second-place finish. Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.
Matt Kenseth was the highest non-Chase finisher at third.
Martin holds a 10-point lead over Johnson heading into next week at Kansas Speedway.
“This team is really on a roll right now,” Martin said.
Other Chase driver results saw Jeff Gordon finish sixth, Kasey Kahne was eighth, Tony Stewart ninth and Ryan Newman 10th. Carl Edwards was 11th, Greg Biffle 13th, Brian Vickers 18th and Denny Hamlin 22nd.
“It’s just two races,” Martin said. “I still say that there’s 12 in and 12 can win. It might be a challenge for a couple of the ones toward the end of the back.”
Johnson led 298 laps when he won at Dover in May and added another 271 on the concrete Sunday. Johnson won for the fifth time at Dover.
Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus also won their 15th Chase race. No one is better down the stretch and it’s the main reason why the No. 48 team is going for their record fourth straight title.