Johnson dominates Dover for 7th time

MOTOR SPORTS: Jimmie Johnson joins Richard Petty, Bobby Allison as 7-time winners in Delaware

McClatchy news servicesJune 4, 2012 

Jimmie Johnson romped again at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, racing his way into the track’s history books Sunday with his seventh win at Dover, matching the mark held by Hall of Fame drivers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.

No active driver owns Dover like the five-time Sprint Cup champ. Johnson led 289 of the 400 laps and looked every bit like the driver who swept the two Cup races at Dover in 2002 and 2009. Johnson last won at Dover on Sept. 26, 2010. He also won the September 2005 race.

“God, I love this place,” Johnson said.

The win continued a streak for Hendrick Motorsports. Throw in the All-Star race and that’s a sweet four-race winning streak for NASCAR’s top organization.

Johnson won at Darlington Raceway and Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne won the Coca Cola 600.

Johnson, chasing a sixth Cup title, also won the non-points All-Star race.

“I’ve never been one to pay attention to stats,” Johnson said. “I just truthfully never thought I’d be the guy who’d build up any cool stats. Here I am with some pretty cool stats with legends of our sport and guys that I’ve looked up to.”

Petty needed 46 races to win seven times and Allison did it in 35 races. Johnson got to seven in his 21st start at the track known as the Monster Mile.

“You whipped ’em today,” crew chief Chad Knaus said over the radio.

Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.

Johnson’s win came about 390 miles after a massive 13-car accident ended weeks of mostly accident-free racing and took out defending Cup champion Tony Stewart. Stewart eventually returned and finished 25th.

Johnson’s only real challenge for a stretch came from teammate Jeff Gordon. The No. 24 was strong enough to lead 60 laps midway through the race and had perhaps the car to beat until a tire issue and a debris caution combined to land him in 13th.

“It’s always more frustrating when you’ve got a car that can win and you show it by going up there and taking the lead,” Gordon said. “We don’t care about finishing top 15 or top 10 right now. That does nothing for us. We need wins.”

Earnhardt joined his Hendrick teammates up front most of the race and posted his fifth top-five of the season. His losing streak stretched to 142 races, but he has only one finish outside the top 10 in his past nine races.

“We are getting close,” he said. “We are finishing good when we are not winning. I can’t really complain too much about how we’re doing.”

Kahne followed his victory with a ninth-place finish to round out another stellar race for Hendrick.

Points leader Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 11th and holds a one-point lead in the standings over Kenseth heading into next week’s race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

After weeks of lengthy green-flag runs in the Cup series, the cautions and accidents finally returned. Stewart, Landon Cassill and Regan Smith all connected to trigger the multi-car crash. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch also later were taken out of the race on separate incidents.

SHORT DETROIT RACE

Scott Dixon won IndyCar’s Detroit Grand Prix that was marred by poor track conditions that stopped the race for a little more than two hours.

A red flag halted the event 45 laps into a race that was scheduled for 90 laps and shortened it to 60.

“We have to focus on the positives,” Dixon said.

The first sign of trouble was when James Hinchcliffe lost control because he ran through a huge divot and slammed into a tire barrier when he was on lap 39.

Dario Franchitti, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, was second.

ELSEWHERE

Steve Torrence (3.800 seconds at 323.66 mph) earned his second Top Fuel win of the season, beating Brandon Bernstein (3.807, 321.04 mph) at the NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J. Other winners were Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). … Protester threats over college tuition forced organizers of the Canadian Grand Prix to cancel Thursday’s free opening day of the event in Montreal.

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