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Kyle Busch takes advantage of Jimmie Johnson's bobble and sprints away to win the Dover 400

  Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson were a blur to the rest of the pack in Sunday's Dover 400, which played out to a rare non-sellout crowd. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 


   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.

   A rare mistake by Jimmie Johnson on the final round of pit stops, under green, proved costly. And Kyle Busch – who dueled cat-and-mouse with Johnson at the front of the pack all afternoon – wound up the runaway winner of Sunday's 400 at Dover International Speedway.
   So Busch, some seven seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Burton and third-place Matt Kenseth at the finish, wrapped up a heck of a weekend at this high-banked one-mile. He won Saturday's Nationwide race too, in dominating fashion, and he ran out of gas the last lap while dominating Friday's Truck race.
   "It's phenomenal," Busch said after his second win of the year. He and new crew chief Dave Rogers got their first win together two weeks ago at Richmond, Va. "The race off pit road at the end really won it for us.I think we coaxed Jimmie into speeding a little....I don't know if that's really the way it happened but I'm going to say it did."

   Johnson's mistake: too fast exiting pit road, which cost him a pass-through penalty, dropping him a lap off the pace, in a race that had boiled down to a great head-to-head battle between him and Busch. The two men had pitted together with 37 miles left in the 400-miler, and Busch appeared to have a slightly faster stop, but they came off pit road almost side-by-side. NASCAR then announced the penalty, which doomed Johnson, who finished 16th a lap down.
   With that, Busch vaulted to second place in the Sprint Cup standings, just 69 behind tour leader Kevin Harvick, who ran seventh.
   "We'll keep knocking on the door and get us one," Burton said after yet another close finish.

    Kyle Busch, in a smokey victory celebration (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The three-hour race was surprisingly uneventful, according to Dover standards. But then Johnson and Busch were so strong that no one could really mount a charge. Johnson led 225 miles, Busch 131.
   Kenseth came the closest, using some cool strategy by crew chief Todd Parrott to turn a seemingly dismal situation – nearly going a lap down – into a potential winning afternoon, with a two-tire pit stop that put Kenseth at the head of the field. Kenseth managed to hold the point for about 15 laps before yielding to the two.
   Kenseth, Ford's top finisher, didn't point to his run as any great breakthrough for the brand which has gone winless so far this season.
   "This is usually one of our best tracks, but I didn't feel we really had a car that could challenge for the win," Kenseth said. "We've got a little work to do."

    Among the disappointed: Jeff Gordon, never a factor. Tony Stewart too had another off-race, though he looked good early. Greg Biffle finished sixth but never seemed a contender..
   David Reutimann, who is in contract negotiations with team owner Michael Waltrip and wants more than just a one-year contract extension, ran very well. But teammate Martin Truex Jr., who started from the pole, didn't show well, leading only two laps.
   AJ Allmendinger provided some early thrills, putting Richard Petty's vintage-painted car up front early. But a loose wheel forced him to make an extra pit stop, dropping him off the pace.
   And Chip Ganassi's hot duo, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, both suffered broken suspensions, and needed lengthy repairs in the garage. That could prove costly for their title hopes; McMurray salvaged a 32nd, Montoya a 35th.
   "It was a really tough day," Montoya said disappointedly. "We struggled this weekend for some reason...and it is one of my best tracks.
    "Within three laps both cars broke down."
    It was the first weekend Montoya hasn't been a commanding presence in the field.
    "A track bar broke," McMurray explained. "You build these cars as light as you can...and I think we might have pushed the limit on lightening that piece.
    "I had a really good car; on one of those runs I thought we were the best car."


The race results of Sunday's Dover 400


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  Kyle Busch celebrates another victory for team owner Joe Gibbs, whose men have now won five of the last seven Sprint Cup events. Busch and Jimmie Johnson played NASCAR tag all Sunday afternoon, and no one could touch them (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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