For the 13th time in his career Jimmie Johnson has back to back victories, with his win at Dover International Speedway for the 45th Annual FedEx benefiting Autism Speaks. Johnson gained the victory after a dominating performance Sunday leading 272 laps of the 400 scheduled laps for today’s race at the famed Monster Mile.
This is Johnson’s 68th career victories in 448 NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Johnson, who was the all-time win leader, has 9 wins at the one mile track in 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, but as Johnson trounced the field he became the all time leader for laps led at the track, with 2581 laps.
Before collecting the flag and making his victory lap Johnson thanked his crew, after which crew chief Chad Knaus said, “I told you, you were going to like that race car didn’t I, I told you last week.”
After Knaus finished Johnson’s reply was, “Yeah man, what a ride! Thank-you.”
“We’ve been getting closer and we got a new generation car that Chad (Knaus) just had a lot of faith in and put a lot of time and effort into,” Johnson explained in victory lane. “He told me I would love the car and sure enough we unloaded and got on the track and it was right.”
Once Johnson took the lead he was never seriously challenged and at one point he had a 6 second lead over the field until a late race caution on Lap 392. That would leave Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., and Paul Menard staying on the track for the final restart with 4 laps remaining, to hold off the drivers with fresher tires. Johnson drove away from the competition and drove away for the win, with Denny Hamlin running out of time.
Today’s FedEx 400 featured an incident when 160 laps into the race Ryan Newman’s car pulled up a chunk of the track that Jamie McMurray drove into damaging the front splitter, as the race was stopped under red flag conditions, crews weren’t allowed to work on the cars, leaving McMurray’s exception plea to fall on deaf ears. Pieces of the track also flew up and cracked a window on the pedestrian crossover bridge.
NASCAR officials and safety crews went to work on the holes to apply a quick drying concrete mix, causing the second red flag to last 22 minutes and 22 seconds.
At the time of the red flag Kevin Harvick was leading, but when the race resumed Harvick fell two laps down with a flat tire, he would work his way back to finish 17th.
Next weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will go to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 400, Sunday, June 8, with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. eastern time on TNT.