Johnson holds off Harvick to win in Dover
DOVER, Del. - Jimmie Johnson held off Kevin Harvick in the final two laps of the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday to claim his 10th-career win at the track. Already the all...
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson held off Kevin Harvick in the final two laps of the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday to claim his 10th-career win at the track. Already the all-time winningest driver at Dover, Johnson became the first to notch double-digit wins there.
“My car was really strong all day long,” Johnson said.
“Just thankful my engineers and Chad (Knaus, crew chief), they mentally stayed in the game and got the job done.”
Harvick finished second, Kyle Larson was third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five.
A wreck involving Casey Mears, Greg Biffle and A.J. Allmendinger just before the white flag extended the race and resulted in a green-white-checker restart with Johnson and Kahne restarting on the front row and Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick in row two. Harvick moved up to second on the restart but was unable to get by Johnson.
“The No. 4 car (Harvick) rallied me from behind,” Johnson said. “I’m thankful he hit that hard, because it allowed me to click it in third (gear) and keep on going.”
A wreck involving Brian Scott and Kyle Busch while Busch was running in the top-five brought out a yellow flag with about 25 laps to go. Harvick and Johnson stayed out and restarted up front, while Truex pitted for right-side tires and Denny Hamlin took four.
Johnson took the lead from Harvick when the race restarted. A few laps later, another caution came out after Hamlin and Clint Bowyer made contact. When the race restarted, Kahne pushed Johnson out in front and took second by getting by Harvick, who also lost third to Truex.
“We just struggled at the end of the race on restarts, really all day on the restarts,” Harvick said. “Once the track bar broke, we were pretty much in a box and just kind of had to hold on for the first 25 laps, and if we weren’t in front, then we struggled to maintain what we had.”
After Hamlin and Truex dominated the top spot in the running order through the first half of the race, Harvick and Johnson took over in the second half.
“Clean air was huge,” Truex said. “When we were out front, we were okay. It just never turned good all day long. It just eventually caught up to us.”
Harvick assumed the lead through a cycle of green-flag stops past the halfway point of the race. Johnson, who started the race 14th, got up to third on a restart following a lap-260 caution and then passed Truex for second with about 87 laps to go.
After a final green-flag cycle of stops completed, Harvick and Johnson were back up front in first and second in the final 50 laps of the race.
Hamlin and Truex started the race on the front row, with Hamlin on the pole and Truex in second. Prior to a green-flag cycle of pit stops got underway on lap 152, all laps were led by Hamlin or Truex.
The first green-flag cycle of stops was quickly followed by a caution on lap 163. Truex was back up front for the restart, while Hamlin restarted sixth after a slower green-flag stop just before the caution. Hamlin then pitted when the yellow flag waved again a few laps later. As a result, he restarted 13th and then lost additional laps when the race returned to green.
Truex, meanwhile, continued to run up front, holding off his closest competitors, Busch and Harvick. Harvick took second from Busch before a second green-flag cycle of stops started on lap 246. After the cycle, Harvick was up front, ahead of Truex.
Truex finished sixth after leading a race-high 131 laps, Jamie McMurray was seventh, Paul Menard eighth, Bowyer ninth and Jeff Gordon 10th.