Jimmie Johnson is victorious at the Monster Mile, after dominating by leading 289 of the 400 laps, and has won for the seventh time at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.
With 7 wins Johnson is now tied with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for the most career victories on the one mile concrete track. An impressive average is Johnson’s 7 wins in 21 starts at Dover making a 33% winning odds.
Johnson’s victory makes the Hendrick Motorsports’ winning streak to three points races. Johnson won at Darlington Raceway and Kasey Kahne won the Coca-Cola 600. Johnson also won the non-points All-Star race and his pit crew won the pit crew challenge the week prior to the Coca-Cola 600.
“It was a team effort, obviously I had an amazing Lowe’s Chevrolet to drive today,” said Johnson. “Last week was hard on us but this week the guys stepped up and did it every-time I was on pit road.”
Johnson scored his second win of the season, joining Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski as two time winners this season. As Johnson celebrated in victory lane, he wore a multi-colored circus wig as part of the sponsorship promotion for the movie Madagascar 3.
On lap 9 a 13-car pile-up rocked the field, early in the race, sending several cars to the garage for major repairs. Among them was the #14 Mobil One Chevrolet of the defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. Regan Smith went to the inside and tried to motor past Stewart but couldn’t clear the #14. Nine other cars stacked up in the mess of debris behind, Landon Cassill, Stewart, and Smith, blocking the track and creating a red flag situation for 19 minutes and 54 seconds. While the track workers cleaned up the mess.
Smith blamed himself for the wreck, but Stewart was benevolent towards Smith relieving him of the responsibility.
“I got into the back of the No. 14 and started the whole thing,” Smith said. “I’ll take full blame for that. Somehow they got checked up in front of me. I just didn’t have time to get slowed up with it. I hate that there are so many wrecked race cars here. It’s not fun for anybody.”
Whereas Stewart’s take on the accident was quite different, when Stewart said, “The No. 83 [Cassill] was trying to get back down to the bottom and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t Regan’s fault. He was right behind us and he didn’t have anywhere to go either. Just not a real good deal at the beginning of the race like this.”
For a little while it appeared Jeff Gordon might be the one in victory lane, after he made a charge early in the race from 14th to the lead halfway through, Gordon came out of the pits with a loose left rear wheel. He had to pit under green and lost 2 laps while changing all the tires unsure of which tire was loose. Gordon did come back to the lead when the rest of the field cycled through with green-flag pit stops, he had to stop with 76 laps to go and a debris caution came out 16 laps later making his chances go up in smoke. Gordon wasn’t able to regain the lead and settled for 13th.
The Monster Mile took a bite out of Carl Edward, who blew a right front-tire, his #99 Ford shot up into the wall on lap 163, finishing 26th 82 laps down. Kyle Busch, another pre-race favorite, appeared to blow an engine on lap 205, and he would not return to the race and finished 29th. Kurt Busch, on lap 345, and Jeff Burton, on lap 363, also were unable to finish with late-race blown engines, at a track not-known for engine failure.
Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.