Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Uh-oh, Jimmie 'Four-time' Johnson is winning again, and on a pretty dismal Dover day for title rivals.

   JJ, here with new daughter Genevieve Marie, is looking good for another title run....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  By Mike Mulhern

  DOVER, Del.

   Jimmie Johnson finally got back on track and back into the winner's circle Sunday, with an impressive victory in the Dover AAA 400, his first tour win since June....on a warm, partly-sunny afternoon at Dover International Speedway in Round Two of the 10-race championship chase, albeit in front of a smaller than expected crowd at a track that can hold 135,000.

   "They're not just good, they're great," runner-up Jeff Burton said. "This is one of their best race tracks, and it didn't surprise me to see them run as strong as they did."

   "We were a little off when we showed up, but Jimmie did a great job qualifying (on the pole), and we looked pretty fast today," Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus said.

   Johnson and Knaus have struggled this season, and that crash last week at Loudon left him 25th.

   "Last week didn't turn out like we wanted it to, but now there is this huge weight off my shoulders," Johnson said. "I know Talladega is still out there. But we're in good position now. We've been getting our butts kicked."

   "I think a lot of people were counting them out, but we were counting on Loudon and this place to help get us going," car owner Rick Hendrick said.

   Denny Hamlin's crew had to work overtime Saturday repairing that rear fender bump by title rival Kevin Harvick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Ford's AJ Allmendinger dominated early, but a tire problems midway doomed his bid. He did rally to finish 10th.

   In the Joe Gibbs versus Richard Childress battle of team owners, Sunday was a split decision: Burton ran second, in a good bid for the win, for Childress, but teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer both floundered. On the Gibbs' side, Joey Logano, though not in the playoffs, had the best finish, third, just ahead of teammate Kyle Busch (sixth), and Denny Hamlin (ninth).

   However title chasers Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth all had bad days.

   The three-hour race was quite uneventful, with no fireworks, no door-to-door duels, and no histrionics. And that may have been surprising, given the angry comments from Bowyer and Hamlin here Friday about that Loudon controversy, and given Saturday's bumping between Harvick and Hamlin.

   Childress and J. D. Gibbs held a pre-race pow wow, but it's unclear if they were trying to make a truce or just cool things off. Gibbs said he had asked Hamlin to tone down his comments about rivals.

   Wherever all that goes next is unclear. Childress and Bowyer have a planned appeals hearing with a three-man NASCAR Wednesday, and Childress has vowed to take it to a second appeal if that one isn't successful.

   Out on the track here things were generally rather tentative throughout the field, with little of the action this concrete one-mile is known for. The race came down to fuel mileage, with a long run of green at the end, but every driver had to stop for fuel, so no one ran out, unlike last weekend's finish in New Hampshire.

   "We had a good car, I just didn't do a good job qualifying," Burton, two seconds behind at the line, said. "It's been one of those years where we've been really good, and just haven't got the finishes.

   "Jimmie was the class of the field. We put some pressure on them, but they were just too fast."

   Hamlin said he was hoping to finish at least eighth, at a track he doesn't typically run well at.

   "This track has bitten us in the chase the last four years, so to get out of here and still hold the points lead is pretty good."

   "I thought we had something for Jimmie with 100 to go," Kyle Busch said. "We had a legitimate second-place car. But the car tightened up late."

   Hey, how about ol' AJ: Allmendinger came close to putting Richard Petty's famous 43 into Dover's winner's circle (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The day's big surprise was Allmendinger, who led 143 of the 400 laps. Prior to Sunday, he'd only led 43 laps in his NASCAR career.

   But if not for an unexpected tire problem midway through the three-hour event Allmendinger certainly had enough to handle Johnson. And that would have been quite an upset.

   Allmendinger, who rallied back to 10th, is one of the sport's newcomers, and his wit is a pleasant change from his sometimes grumpy rivals.

   "It was fun to lead. No wonder Jimmie is smiling so much," Allmendinger said.

   "...just a stupid five-cent washer got inside the tire. I'm not sure when. It must have been right when we left the pits.

   "As that run went on, the car started 'freeing up' and I asked how long before I was supposed to pit. '20 laps.' And I'm like 'I'm not going to make it.'

   "I knew something was wrong. I knew the right-rear was going down."

   The green flag stop put him in a big hole. "After that, you're just fighting back the rest of the day," he said.

   "But we're getting really good at fighting back and making good finishes out of a problem.

   "We've got fast race cars, and we're getting there. They saw us lead. They saw that we had the speed.

   "It was a good day...but it could have been a great day."

The results of Sunday's Dover 400


Of all the days for me to be

Of all the days for me to be drawn into the Patriots-Bills and Titans-Giants contests, it had to be this one. Ah the hazards of multi-tasking and loving two sports at once (three actually, with the NHL and AHL seasons looming in a little under two weeks).

It is reminiscent of another run fifteen years ago in the Delaware 500 - and yes, 500 IS a superior test of machinery and driver than 400, NASCAR - involving a Hendrick Motorsports car and the Petty #43. In September 1995 Jeff Gordon was the dominator but Bobby Hamilton raced Richard's #43 into the lead and led virtually the entire central 100 laps, ultimately finishing third. Like this one it was a tranquil affair with few yellows (save for a nasty crash involving Dale Jarrett).

Allmendinger is overdue a win. More than one, actually.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com