Johnson wins for 7th time at Dover

Johnson wins for 7th time at Dover

June 3rd, 2012 by Associated Press in Local Regional News

Dover, Del. - Jimmie Johnson dominated again and won for the seventh time at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Johnson matched Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most career victories on the 1-mile concrete track. Johnson also stretched the Hendrick Motorsports' winning streak to three. Johnson won at Darlington Raceway and Kasey Kahne won the Coca Cola 600.

Johnson also won the non-points All-Star race during that span as the No. 48 Chevrolet is heating up as he chases a sixth Cup championship.

Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.

Johnson won his second race of the season. He celebrated in Victory Lane wearing a multicolored circus wig as part of a sponsorship promotion for a movie.

Petty needed 46 races to win seven times and Allison had 35 races. Johnson got to seven in his 21st start at the track known as the Monster Mile.

"You whipped 'em today," crew chief Chad Knaus said over the radio.

No active driver owns the track like Johnson. He led 289 of the 400 laps and looked every bit like the driver who swept the two Cup races at Dover in 2002 and 2009. Johnson last won at Dover on Sept. 26, 2010.

"God, I love this place," Johnson said as he took a victory spin.

Johnson's win came about 390 miles after a massive 13-car accident that took out defending Cup champion Tony Stewart. He eventually returned and finished 25th.

Jeff Gordon, Johnson's teammate, had perhaps the car of the race until a wheel issue knocked him down to 13th. Gordon said after the disappointing finish that he had the car to beat.

Maybe. But Johnson had the win.

Fellow Hendrick driver Earnhardt ran up front most of the race and posted his fifth top-five of the season. His losing streak stretched to 142 races, but he has only one finish outside the top 10 in his last nine races.

"I can't complain too much about how we're doing," he said.

Kahne followed his victory with a ninth-place finish to round out another stellar race for Hendrick.

Points leader Greg Biffle was 11th and holds a one-point lead in the standings over Kenseth heading into next week's race at Pocono.

After weeks of lengthy green-flag runs in the Cup series, the cautions and accidents finally returned. Stewart, Landon Cassill and Regan Smith all connected to trigger the multi-car crash. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch also later were taken out of the race on separate incidents.

Johnson, who won his 57th career Cup race, pulled away for good off a late restart and had fun goofing around in Victory Lane. Johnson, Knaus and other crew members wore the wacky wig seen in the talking-animal movie, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted."

They have good reason to smile. Throw in the All-Star race and that's a sweet four-race winning streak for NASCAR's top organization.