Sometimes a driver just takes to a particular track and no matter how much the competition tries, they simply cannot get the better of them when that track is on the schedule. Back in the day, a track like Bristol was always a track that favored Darrell Waltrip or Rusty Wallace. Talladega constantly favored Dale Earnhardt, or the road course challenge was always mastered by Jeff Gordon.
In recent years, one track and one driver have stood above the rest. That is the combination of Jimmie Johnson and Dover, a.k.a. the “Monster Mile.”
Johnson won his first race at this track back in 2002, during his rookie season. Since then, it has just been a place where even with the constant car changes in design, safety, and how they drive, Johnson and his team have figured out exactly how to get around this concrete marvel.
Entering Sunday’s action, he was tied with most wins all-time at this place, eight, and was tied with both Earnhardt and Richard Petty. But, Johnson has already claimed record after record, and is in the prime of his career. Many more records will fall, including possibly him eclipsing the seven championship mark of the two previously mentioned legends of the sport.
But, back to Dover. Sunday, he didn’t start out front, but it certainly didn’t take long for him to get there. When he did, it was just a matter of knocking down laps and putting up numbers.
During the race, he became the all-time leader in laps led at this track. He is now at nearly 3000 laps led at this place. Keep this in mind: Dover is a 400-lap race. That means he’s led a total of seven combined races at this place, and that included eight wins. Well, it did until the final lap on Sunday.
When the black Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevy crossed the line, it was the ninth win overall for Johnson. For a long while, Charlotte Motor Speedway was known as “Johnson’s House,” mainly because at the time it was sponsored by Lowe’s and he constantly won at the place. But no, in reality, this joint is Johnson’s yard, and he’s the big dog that’s in it.
The only way that record is going to fall is if another driver somehow knocks Johnson off his perch. But don’t bet on it, there’s plenty of racing left in him, and many more records are going to fall in the years to come.
RESULTS: 1-Johnson 2-Keselowski 3-Kenseth 4-Bowyer 5-Hamlin 6-Truex Jr. 7-Stewart 8-Logano 9-Earnhardt Jr. 10-Menard
NOTABLE FINISHES: 14-Edwards 15-Gordon 17-Harvick 18-Kurt Busch 42-Kyle Busch
CAUTIONS: 8 for 41 laps. Lap 66-70 (#23 accident-T1), 126-131 (#18, 15 accident-FS), 135-140 (#16, 17, 47, 83, 40 accident-BS [Red Flag: 6 Mins, 39 Secs.]), 159-164 (#1 accident-T2 [Red Flag: 22 Mins, 22 Secs.]), 223-227 (#23 accident-T1), 241-245 (Fluid on Track), 362-366 (Debris-BS), 394-396 (Debris-T3).
LEAD CHANGES: 18 among 6 drivers. Keselowski POLE, Kyle Busch 1-81, Johnson 82-126, Bowyer 127, Johnson 128-139, Harvick 140-158, Kenseth 159, Harvick 160-164, Kenseth 165-177, Johnson 178-222, Kenseth 223, Johnson 224-240, Kenseth 241, Johnson 242-322, Kenseth 323, Johnson 324-361, Keselowski 362, Bowyer 363-366, Johnson 367-400.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 23 Mins, 52 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 117.724 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.885 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Kenseth, 463 Points; 2. Gordon, -2*; 3. Edwards, -25*; 4. Johnson, -27*; 5. Earnhardt Jr, -34*; 6. Logano, -49*; 7. Kyle Busch, -52*; 8. Keselowski, -59*; 9. Hamlin, -84*; 10. Larson, -86