Jimmy Johnson and Dover International Speedway seem to be the perfect match. Johnson swept both Dover races in his rookie season and after winning the race Sunday, he now has 11 career wins at the track. Sometimes Johnson dominates races at Dover while, as he did this past week, only leads a few laps for the victory.
Johnson had to start at the back of the field after making a gear change. He steadily made his way through the field and into the top 10. He finished 5th in stage 1 and 2nd in stage 2. As the race drew to a close, Johnson was several seconds behind race leader Kyle Larson but a wreck by David Ragan forced the race to go into overtime.
Johnson had a great restart as Larson spun his tires, and when Ty Dillon started a multi-car wreck, officials determined Johnson was past the overtime line enabling Johnson to garner his 83rd career victory, tying him with Cale Yarborough for 6th on the all-time win list.
“Honestly, it all came down to a restart,” Johnson said. “I knew it would be tricky on old, hot, worn-off tires. I just had a better restart.”
Johnson, who had plenty to overcome Sunday, now has three victories this season to lead all drivers.
Martin Truex Jr. won both stages and finished third behind Johnson and Larson.
Rookie Daniel Suarez was 6th, a career best. Danica Patrick spun on lap 147 but recovered for her first top 10 in what’s been a miserable season. She has had several good races this year, but accidents ruined her day.
The Monster Mile lived up to its name as many drivers exited the race early. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski both had problems sending them to the garage after less than 70 laps. Keselowski now has failed to finish three races this season, including two straight for wrecks. His two wins though, have left him locked into the playoffs.
It was almost back-to-back wins for the Dillon brothers. Two weeks ago, Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600. His brother Ty was in position for the win at Dover until a wreck ended his day.
Truex maintained his points lead thanks to his two stage victories and his third-place finish. He has a nine-point lead over Kyle Larson. Thanks to stage points gained by both drivers, they have more than a100-point lead over Kevin Harvick, in third place.
At the halfway point of the season, four drivers in last year’s playoff are not in the top 16 this year. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have retired while Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon have not gained a top 16 ranking. Dillon could make it in because of his win this year, but will have to hope no more than 16 different drivers have wins in the regular season. He currently is in 21st place in points.