Monday, September 30, 2013

Jimmie Johnson Bests Petty-Allison Record!

DOVER, DE – Well, he did it again. Jimmie Johnson won his record-setting eighth win at Dover International Speedway with a 0.5 sec margin over pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. This was also Johnson’s fifth win of the season and 65th Sprint Car career win. The record that Johnson broke was not low-lying fruit as the record for the most wins at the monster mile was held by NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Bobby Allison. "It's incredible," Johnson said. "To do anything Bobby or Richard has done is quite an accomplishment. We've had a few sneak away from us here, too, over the years. I'm just happy to get that done and be the sole leader of race wins here. It's a very special day."

Though Johnson led the most laps by far, 243 to Earnhardt’s 80, the win seemed dubious when Earnhardt’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, decided to put Dale Jr on four fresh tires versus Chad Knaus who went with only two for the final 25 lap stint. Money was that Earnhadt’s rubber would give hi the edge needed to catch and pass Johnson. But the strategy failed as Dale could manage only closing the gap to 0.5 sec. “I felt as we got through traffic, Jimmie was struggling the last couple of laps,” Earnhardt said. “My car got better and drove better the longer I ran. It did what I needed it to do in the corners and was starting to come around. The difference in the tires was about to show, but the race is 400 laps and that’s the way it is. If I could have gotten to him, I think I would be been able to get by him. If I had, we were going to have a helluva party.” 

Earnhardt has been winless for 48 straight races. Winning the pole at Dover has energized his fan base. Some might say too-little, too-late, but this may prove to be a turning point for the struggling team. Also, snafus like the one on lap 119 missing the pit entrance on the previous lap cost him the race lead, need to stop if Little E expects to be in the winner’s circle again.

The win also moves Johnson into second place in the Chase and only 8 points behind points leader Matt Kenseth who only managed a 7th place finish at Dover. Earnhardt moved up 1 place to 10th. The biggest move in the standings was made by Jeff Gordon, who’s 4th place Dover finish moved him up 3 places, tied with Kevin Harvick in 4th.

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