If there was ever any doubt about how well Jimmie Johnson would do this season, they have all disappeared now. After winning last weekend at Charlotte, Jimmie Johnson has proved that he’s back by winning twice in a row Sunday at Dover. This win makes it Johnsons 9th at Dover – an all-time high.
The race started with Kyle Busch taking the lead away from pole sitter, Brad Keselowski. Many eyes were on Kyle Busch heading into Sundays race after he won Friday’s truck race and Saturday’s Nationwide series race. Busch was able to stay out front, and by lap 17, the front runners began to put cars a lap down.
On lap 28, Kyle Busch became the 15th driver in Sprint Cup series history to lead 10,000 laps.
The race stayed relatively calm with only a few people making any large movements. One of those people were rookie Kyle Larson. Larson had to start at the back of the longest line when his team changed an engine after qualifying. Larson was able to start making his way towards the front. At the time, pole sitter Brad Keselowski began to fall back, saying that his car was ‘just awful.’
On lap 65, the first caution came out when Alex Bowman had a right front tire go down. The leaders all pitted during this caution, and Kyle Busch was able to comeback out of the pits in the lead, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, And Kevin Harvick.
Denny Hamlin didn’t get to stay up front for long because NASCAR caught him speeding in section 6 of pit road.
The race went back to green on lap 71 after a quick clean up. Kyle Busch was able to pull away from the field. Two laps later, Brian Vickers lost power and headed to the garage. No caution was brought out and Vickers good run was brought to a close.
On lap 81, Kyle Busch was passed by Jimmie Johnson, making him the only other person to lead up until that point.
On lap 88, Alex Bowman smacked the wall again but no caution was waved.
During this run, while Kyle Busch faded, Kevin Harvick began to gain on the leader. On lap 86, Harvick stole second place from Busch and was able to close the gap between himself and the leader, Johnson.
On lap 125, the hopes for Kyle Busch to sweep all three of Dover’s races, were dashed. Clint Bowyer seemed to squeeze Busch into the wall. Bowyer’s spotter later took the blame for ruining Kyle Busch’s day. Kyle Busch was unable to continue and had to pack up and go home early.
On lap 131, the field was brought back to green, but only for a few circuits. Three laps later another caution was brought out when Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr all clashed together.
The field was brought to a red flag on the front stretch while the clean-up ensued. Stenhouse’s day was effectively cut short and Biffle was also sent to the garage for an extended amount of time. Allmendinger was able to stay out but was never as competitive for the duration of the race.
Six minutes later, the field was able to get back to yellow, and on lap 140, the field was brought back to the green by Jimmie Johnson. On the restart, Kevin Harvick was able to use the inside line and pull away from Johson.
The race was brought back under yellow a few laps later, but not before a little bumping between Stewart and Carl Edwards. Stewart ended up not being too happy about it but both received virtually no damage.
On lap 158 the caution flag waved again, this time, it was a little bizarre.
Jamie McMurray had just passed Casey Mears for 16th when he suddenly shut up and hit the wall. The damage was only superficial, but that wasn’t the strange part. After further review, NASCAR was able to find the cause of the accident.
The cause? A part of the track in turn two had come up after Ryan Newman had driven over it. McMurray proceeded to run over the asphalt and after it startled him and his car had further destroyed the piece of asphalt.
NASCAR red flagged the race again to fix the track. Another victim of the asphalt? A bridge in turn two. One of the windows on the bridge was hit with the asphalt and further on cracked by the impact, but have no fear, NASCAR had the tools they needed to repair the window.
They had duct tape.
After 22 minutes of waiting, the race finally got back to yellow, and only a few laps later, Kevin Harvick the field back to green.
Harvick seemed in prime position for about a lap, but when his car began to fall back dramatically and Matt Kenseth took over the lead, the chances of Harvick diminished greatly. Harvick had to pit after his car became undrivable. Harvick was able to get back out two laps later, but was never r=in contention for the win again.
On lap 222, the caution was once again brought out by Bowman when his car slowed on the track considerable.
On lap 227, the green flag once again waved, and Johnson led them to it followed by teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Junior. Matt Kenseth quickly jumped back into the top three on the restart, and the cars ran this way until the caution again waved on lap 244.
This time the caution was brought out when JJ Yeleys car slowed down and began to billow copious amounts of smoke. The race resumed on lap 245 – Johnson again leading them to the green.
On lap 281, Keselowski popped up out of nowhere, passing Dale Junior for third. Keselowski was once again running the laps that got him the pole.
After a lengthy green flag run, the cars began to pit under green, bringing out some extreme strategies. During green flag pit stops, many cars were caught speeding on pit road, including, Danica Patrick, David Stremme, and Austin Dillon.
During this time, Ryan Newman’s transmission began having troubles, and on lap 325, he headed to the garage to fix the faulty part.
On lap 361, the caution was brought out again, ending the longest green flag run of the race. This time the caution was brought out for debris in turn three.
Strategy began to play a role again when Clint Bowyer stayed out while the leaders pitted. Clint Bowyer looked to leading his first laps of the day when the race went back to green, but was quickly overcome by Jimmie Johnson, who pitted and took four tires under the caution.
Bowyer was able to hang onto fourth until the next caution came out on lap 393, when Casey Mears had a tire come apart, and the debris left on the track brought out the caution with seven laps to go.
Johnson led them back to green, with an anxious Brad Keselowski right behind him. Johnson was able to hold off the Ford, and went on to win again at Dover.
Rounding out the top five were Kenseth, Bowyer, and Hamlin.