Jimmie Johnson to the fore with Dover win

Jimmie Johnson celebrates victory in Dover

Jimmie Johnson celebrates victory in Dover

Doubt Jimmie Johnson’s abilities to shine when it matters at your own peril.

That’s the message ringing in the ears of those keen to dethrone the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion after Johnson won the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

After a weekend to forget for the first race of the Chase, Johnson described his Dover win as “the weekend we would dream of” as the Hendrick Motorsports driver now sits just 35 points behind points leader Denny Hamlin.

“We were able to get it with winning the pole, leading the most laps and winning the race,” said Johnson.

“It was a challenging weekend, to say the least …. The rubber would build up on the track and create handling issues for the racecar that you couldn’t tune to. The car would act different and do different things when you ran over the black patches.

“I had to fall back on my dirt racing background. I think that helped me out some. I had a great car. Everybody did their jobs today.  I’m very pleased with the effort.  Came at a good time, clearly. We got eight to go and we’ll see where things go from here.”

To rub salt into the wounds of his Chase rivals, drivers drove through the smoke of Johnson’s victory burnout on their way back onto pit road.

“Man, you are rubbing it into all these guys’ faces here,” crew chief Chad Knaus radioed to the driver.

After a retched week for Richard Childress Racing following the rules infraction of Clint Bowyer and the #33 team, Jeff Burton was able to restore some pride with second place, ahead of young gun Joey Logano in third place.

AJ Allmendinger (#43) led over 100 laps at Dover - positive signs for he and 2011 RPM team-mate Marcos Ambrose

AJ Allmendinger (#43) led over 100 laps at Dover - positive signs for he and 2011 RPM team-mate Marcos Ambrose

It was also a strong run for Richard Petty Motorsports driver AJ Allmendinger, who had a laps led total second only to Johnson, and looked set for a top five finish until a cut tyre forced him to pit and dropped him a lap down.

Allmendinger’s team-mate next season, Australian ace Marcos Ambrose, brought home his JTG Daugherty Racing entry in 20th place in a race highlighted by its long green flag runs, with only four caution periods.

“We were caught out today a bit with the long green flag stint at the start,” said Ambrose.

“The car had reasonable pace, but because the lap time here is so short, we lost a lap.

“From there it was hard to get back on the lead lap, and the timing of the cautions never really worked out for us.

“I don’t think anyone out there had a perfect car, Dover is one of those tough races.

“The guys in the Chase have all wheeled out their A-games, and they are hard to beat at this time of the year.

“We head back to Kansas next weekend, and we’re looking to round out the season on a high note.”

Dover International Speedway (Dover, DE)

1. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
2. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet
3. #20 Joey Logano Toyota
4. #2 Kurt Busch Dodge
5. #99 Carl Edwards Ford
6. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota
7. #98 Paul Menard Ford
8. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet
9. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota
10. #43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford
20. #47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Points standings after Race 28 of 36 (Chase Race #2)

1. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 5368
2. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 5333
3. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 5323
4. Kurt Busch Penske Racing 5309
5. Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing 5303
6. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing 5295
7. Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing 5288
8. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports 5285
9. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing 5228
10. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Racing 5206
11. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing 5203
12. Clint Bowyer Richard Childress Racing 5133
24. Marcos Ambrose JTG Daugherty Racing 2741

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