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Johnson stays perfect at Dover

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Sunday, September 27, 2009

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Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have Dover figured out
Jim Garrahan/AR1.COM

Polesitter Jimmie Johnson threw down the gauntlet in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, but Mark Martin was up to the challenge.

With his fifth victory at Dover and second at the track this year, Johnson affirmed that his No. 48 Chevrolet team is a serious threat to win a fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

Martin, however, retained the lead in the series standings with a runner-up finish to Johnson, who led 271 laps in claiming his fourth victory of the season. Martin leads his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by 10 points after two of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Matt Kenseth ran third, his best finish since winning the second race of the season at Fontana, Calif., in February. Juan Pablo Montoya came home fourth -- his second straight top five in the Chase -- and Kurt Busch kept his hopes for a second Cup title alive with a fifth-place run.

Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman completed the top 10. Greg Biffle (13th), Brian Vickers (18th) and Denny Hamlin (22nd) all lost significant ground in the Chase standings.

Johnson credited crew chief Chad Knaus with adjustments that improved his car after Saturday's final practice session.

"Chad made some great calls last night to make the car more comfortable to drive," said Johnson, who earned the 44th win of his career to tie Bill Elliott for 14th on the career victory list. "It was really what I needed today. We had plenty of speed in it. I just needed some comfort, and I had that.

"I was able to lead a lot of laps, but the few times we were back in traffic because of strategy, I worked my way up through there, and everything went well."

Martin said his car was slightly off, especially on restarts. Characteristically, he would drop positions on the opening laps of a green-flag run and regain them as the run progressed.

"We had a good-handling car on the long runs, but it was a handful on the restarts," Martin said. "I think we did really well by finishing second. We were just off a little bit, and it really showed itself on the restarts, but we were off just a little bit even on the long run, even though we would get where we could beat most of the crowd.

"We didn't hit it perfect, but as competitive as it is, I'm really proud of how well we hit it."

Johnson beat Martin to the finish line by 1.970 seconds, but hours before the checkered flag, the race was stopped for more than 23 minutes after a spectacular crash involving rookie Joey Logano.

NASCAR threw a competition caution after Lap 25, setting up a restart on Lap 31. Before the field could complete the lap, however, a violent collision in Turn 3 sent Logano's car barrel-rolling seven times down the 24-degree banking.

The wreck started when Bobby Labonte moved to the inside and clipped Logano as the cars streaked toward the corner. Logano checked up, only to have his No. 20 Toyota hit from behind by Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet.

The chain-reaction collision that followed sent Logano rolling when Reed Sorenson's Dodge slammed into the side of the car. Logano was unhurt, as were wreck victims Sorenson, Martin Truex Jr. and Robby Gordon, though the cars of all four drivers were mangled.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Logano said, after walking out of the infield care center. "It just really scared the heck out of me. … I'm not sure I want to see a replay. It started rolling, and I was in there like, 'Damn, please make this thing stop.' And it wouldn't -- it just kept going and going."

Notes: Montoya climbed one position to third in the standings, 65 points behind Martin and 10 points ahead of Busch in fourth. Fifth-place Stewart trails Martin by 106 points, while Hamlin dropped three positions in the standings to sixth, 108 points back. … With his fifth victory at Dover, Johnson tied David Pearson for third on the all-time win list at the track. Richard Petty and Bobby Allison posted seven victories each at the Monster Mile.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 195/10 400 Running
2 14 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 170/0 400 Running
3 23 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 165/0 400 Running
4 2 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Polaroid 160/0 400 Running
5 16 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 160/5 400 Running
6 7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 150/0 400 Running
7 19 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Super 8 146/0 400 Running
8 6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 142/0 400 Running
9 22 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Burger King 138/0 400 Running
10 3 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 139/5 400 Running
11 30 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 130/0 400 Running
12 20 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 127/0 400 Running
13 4 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 124/0 400 Running
14 27 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 121/0 400 Running
15 8 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 118/0 400 Running
16 28 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 115/0 400 Running
17 29 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 112/0 400 Running
18 12 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 109/0 400 Running
19 10 98 Paul Menard Ford Energizer / Menards 106/0 400 Running
20 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 103/0 400 Running
21 5 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 100/0 398 Running
22 13 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 97/0 398 Running
23 41 96 Bobby Labonte Ford DLP 94/0 398 Running
24 21 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 91/0 396 Running
25 39 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 88/0 396 Running
26 9 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 85/0 395 Running
27 37 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 82/0 395 Running
28 25 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 79/0 394 Running
29 17 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 76/0 385 Running
30 34 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy's Geek Squad 73/0 353 Running
31 15 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 70/0 342 Running
32 33 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 67/0 337 Running
33 32 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Vaseline Men Body Lotion 64/0 251 In Pit
34 31 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Camping World 61/0 181 In Pit
35 26 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Valvoline 58/0 170 Running
36 38 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 55/0 84 In Pit
37 35 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 52/0 76 In Pit
38 43 36 Michael McDowell Toyota Wave Energy Drink 49/0 74 In Pit
39 18 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 51/5 60 Out of Race
40 36 09 Mike Bliss Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 43/0 54 In Pit
41 40 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 40/0 51 In Pit
42 11 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 37/0 30 In Pit
43 42 37 Tony Raines Dodge Long John Silver's 34/0 13 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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