Jimmie Johnson won the Nascar Sprint Cup Series at Dover International Speedway for the ninth time on Sunday, June 1. It was a dramatic day on the track, and though Johnson must know and love this track by now, this time around there were a few bumps along the way.
Kyle Busch was hoping for a sweep win at Dover with the Nascar Sprint Cup Series race after already winning the Nascar World Truck Series and the Nascar Nationwide Series this weekend. Busch in the number 18 car led for 81 laps. But, at lap 125, Busch ran out of room on the outside, and Clint Bowyer forced car 18 into a wall. Busch lost control and the car was totaled. His first instinct was to go after Bowyer, but was apparently talked out of revenge by his pit crew, as heard in a audio clip released on ESPN. Busch’s race ended there at lap 125, his car crushed as much as his dreams of winning a weekend sweep.
At lap 158 of 400 laps, the race was stopped for more than twenty minutes to repair a large pothole that had been dug out by one of the cars and had also damaged the front tire of another. With some quick plaster and cement, the race began again. But the race was not without drama and debris for the remainder; the crews had to clean up debris close to the end of the race as well.
Throughout all of this trauma and drama, Jimmie Johnson in car 48 took the lead and held it for 272 of 400 laps. He’s won eight NSCS races at Dover, and until this weekend that was the highest of all time. But Johnson seemed determined to break his record on a track he loves, and in the last few laps, he put significant distance between himself and his next opponent. His car seemed to glide through opponents like a crowd-surfer, his confident driving and sheer speed tearing up the track. In the final lap, Johnson shot ahead of the bunch leaving no doubt as to whose was the checkered flag. Johnson took first place and bumped his record from eight to nine Nascar Sprint Cup Series wins at Dover. Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth followed in second and third places, respectively.
Johnson earned his second consecutive win, having also won last weekend at the Coca-Cola 600. With his multiple wins this season, he’s earned a spot in the Nascar Chase for the Sprint playoff race. Johnson, along with Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, have multiple wins already this season and sit at the top of the table for the Nascar Playoff qualifiers. Johnson is the clear leader with 436 points and two wins. All three drivers hold two wins. Jeff Gordon follows Harvick with one win.
With such an amazing track record at Dover, many Jimmie Johnson haters have cried conspiracy after Sunday’s race. Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus was reported saying that Jimmie would love the car, even going as far to say that they are ready to take it all the way to the Indianapolis 500, according to in-depth interviews held after Johnson’s win at Dover. Sure, Knaus might be overly confident of his darling new car, as per new racing regulations. But Johnson’s win has a lot more to do with the driver’s confidence on the track, talent, and track record than it does with him driving a mythical Chevrolet. Either way, fans can look forward to some more conspiracies, some more track drama, and some more incredibly heroic driving from Jimmie Johnson this season.
Sarah Elizabeth, Pundit Arena.