It was a typical day at Dover International Speedway as Jimmie Johnson led 272 of the races 400 laps to win the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks on Sunday. It's Johnson's ninth win of his career at Dover and he did it in dominate fashion. Johnson won his second race in a row, following up last weekend's victory in Charlotte. An excited Johnson celebrated in victory lane.
"This is incredible. Awesome race team and awesome car," Johnson said in victory lane.
Johnson held off Brad Keselowski after a late race restart to win the FedEx 400. Finishing in the third spot was Matt Kenseth with Clint Bowyer coming home fourth and Denny Hamlin finishing fifth. Martin Truex Jr finished in the sixth position with Tony Stewart coming home seventh, Joey Logano finished eighth and Dale Earnhardt Jr finished ninth. Paul Menard rounded out the top ten.
The race began with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch on the front row for the first of 400 laps around Dover International Speedway Sunday, with Busch pulling away to a lead early. Busch pulled away with the lead and on lap 28 Busch became just the 15th driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to lead 10,000 laps.
Busch was the dominate car early and had a two second lead on lap 62 over Jimmie Johnson. On lap 65 Alex Bowman caused the races' first caution flag of the day when he hit the wall. Bowman would continue. The leaders would pit and under the pit stops Denny Hamlin would speed on the entrance to his pit. Hamlin have to go to the rear of the field on the restart. Kyle Busch was still in front when the race restarted on lap 71. Busch pulled away to the lead after the restart and continued his early assault on the field.
On lap 73 Brian Vickers would fall off the pace in his #55 Toyota. Vickers had an engine problem and was forced to retire. He finished 43rd. On lap 81 Jimmie Johnson would pass Kyle Busch for the lead and it was the first time the eventual winner would lead the event. On lap 119 David Stremme would have issues and would go to the garage for repairs. Stremme eventually finished 37th.
On lap 125 Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch would make contact sending Busch into the outside wall hard. Bowyer thought he was clear as he was passing Busch coming off of turn two. However, Bowyer was not clear and crowded Busch into the wall. Busch would have significant damage on the right side of his car but would try and go after Bowyer on the racetrack after the incident under the yellow. Busch would eventually end the threat and pull onto pit road and was done for the day. Busch finished 42nd. It also ended his chance to sweep all three races this weekend at Dover.
On lap 131 Johnson led the field to green and three laps later Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr crashed hard causing the races' third caution flag. Stenhouse would get passed by AJ Allmendinger, who then cut across Stenhouse and made contact with the nose of his car. Allmendinger would slide into Greg Biffle and Biffle would spin and hit the wall hard. Stenhouse would have nowhere to go and crash into Biffle. Stenhouse would be done for the day and finish in the 41st spot. Biffle would continue but was over 100 laps down. He finished 38th.
The accident also saw Ryan Truex and Landon Cassill making contact, sending Cassill spinning. Both cars would continue with limited damage. The race would go under the red flag for the first time. After a short delay, Johnson restarted in front with Harvick and Kenseth behind him on lap 140. On lap 141 Harvick took the lead from Johnson right off the restart. Johnson was leading when the races fourth caution flag flew on lap 158 when Jamie McMurray hit the outside wall. McMurray hit concrete on the track that came up after the track broke in turn two when Ryan Newman went by. McMurray had minor damage on his car but would continue after his crew made repairs.
NASCAR would put the race under a red flag to repair the hole in the track. After about a 20 minute delay, the race would continue after pit stops with Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin in front of the field on lap 164. Harvick led the field to green but would have to pit two laps later after having a flat tire. Harvick would lose three laps after pitting under green and would continue in the 31st position. The lead would fall into the hands of Matt Kenseth until lap 178 when Jimmie Johnson passed Kenseth for the lead.
By lap 191 Johnson's lead was 1.5 seconds over Kenseth. On lap 198 Jeff Gordon passed Kenseth for second and when the race hit the halfway mark at lap 200 Gordon was closing in a little bit on Johnson. Johnson was leading on lap 222 when Alex Bowman slowed up on track causing the races fifth caution flag. Bowman finished in 40th. The leaders would pit again and Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were on the front row after pit stops. They led the field to green on lap 227.
Johnson would pull away again and continue to lead. Johnson was leading on lap 240 when the races' sixth caution flag flew when J.J. Yeley blew an engine. Yeley would not continue and finish 39th. The leaders would pit again and the #48 team got Johnson out quickly again. He led the field to green on lap 245. On lap 249 David Ragan would hit the wall in his #34 Ford but the race would continue. Ragan would go to the garage but would eventually continue. He finished 36th.
Meanwhile in the front of the field Johnson would continue to lead as his lead was over two seconds over Jeff Gordon. On lap 295 Johnson's lead was 2.5 seconds over Gordon. The race would turn into a fuel strategy race and several teams tried to stretch their fuel including Austin Dillon, who would run out of gas on lap 316. Dillon would not have his gages coming down pit road and he would speed entering the pits. Dillon finished 20th, two laps down.
Dillon wasn't the only one who got caught speeding on pit road, Danica Patrick was also a victim on lap 323. Patrick finished 23rd. Dillon's teammate Ryan Newman would have transmission issues on the round of pit stops as well. Newman went behind the wall to repair his car and would eventually continue. Newman finished 31st after losing 13 laps.
Meanwhile in the front of the field Johnson led Brad Keselowski, who had moved into second place after getting his car handling properly and great pit strategy. Keselowski trailed Johnson by 3.12 seconds on lap 349. On lap 361 the races' seventh caution flag would fly for debris, changing the complex of the race and eliminating any chance at a fuel mileage race.
The leaders would pit with Clint Bowyer coming out in front after taking two tires. Bowyer was followed by Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski. The race would restart on lap 366 and Johnson was fast again on the restart, blowing by Clint Bowyer taking the lead. Johnson led Matt Kenseth by 1.5 seconds on lap 377.
The races' eighth and final caution flag would fly on lap 393 due to debris from Casey Mears' car. Mears would have a tire go down, causing the debris. Mears finished 25th. During the caution the top six drivers would stay out and not pit, as Johnson led Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski on the lap 397 restart. Johnson shot out and Keselowski would pass Kenseth for second but could not close on Johnson and Johnson would win his 68th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and second of the 2014 season.
Rookie Kyle Larson finished in the 11th spot with Aric Almirola coming home 12th. Jamie McMurray finished 13th and Carl Edwards finished 14th. Jeff Gordon finished 15th with Marcos Ambrose coming home 16th as the last lead lap car. Kevin Harvick finished 17th with teammate Kurt Busch finishing 18th. Kasey Kahne finished in the 19th spot and Austin Dillon finished 20th.
Brett Moffitt finished in 22nd. He was making his Sprint Cup Series debut in the #66 Identity Racing Ventures with Jay Robinson Racing Toyota.
The victory for Johnson locks him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick all have two victories on the season and lead the Chase Grid. The drivers with one win on the season are Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. The other drivers who would be in the Chase if the season ended today are Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon based on points.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 8th. The race will start at 1:15 .pm. ET and will be broadcasted on TNT after the FOX portion of the season is over.Tags: Brad Keselowski, dover international speedway, FedEx 400, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series