Johnson sprints past Stewart for Cup victory
Jimmie Johnson nosed past Tony Stewart with two laps left in a thrilling battle to the finish and won the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
Johnson pushed Stewart over the final few laps yesterday on the concrete and finally caught him with an outside pass. Johnson won his second race of the season and got his fourth career Cup victory at Dover.
"We just couldn't hold off Jimmie," Stewart said. "He was like a freight train coming."
Johnson dominated most of the race and led 298 total laps after leading only 12 laps combined in the last six races. The three-time defending Cup champion had a slow pit stop with 36 laps left that dropped him from the lead. With crew chief Chad Knaus telling Johnson he would catch Stewart, Johnson pulled out his 42d career win.
"I just had to go," Johnson said. "I had one heck of a race with Tony. That's how racing's supposed to be done."
He was followed by Stewart, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Kurt Busch.
Stewart passed Jeff Gordon for the Cup points lead and became the first owner/driver to sit atop the standings since Alan Kulwicki in 1992. Gordon finished 26th.
Johnson appeared to have the race under control and was never really challenged for most of the 400-mile race. When he came in for a four-tire pit stop with 36 laps, a faulty exchange by his crew slowed him down and dropped him into ninth.
One by one, he picked off the drivers in front of him. He charged past Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch until only Biffle and Stewart were ahead of the No. 48 Chevrolet with 10 laps left. Johnson passed Biffle and that set up the frantic finish that rivaled Talladega for the most dramatic end so far this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th in his first race with crew chief Lance McGrew.
Earnhardt posted his best finish since Talladega in his first race without longtime crew chief Tony Eury Jr. Hendrick Motorsports made the decision to give McGrew a shot at calling the race a week earlier than expected. Earnhardt ran in the top 10 for a portion of the first half of the race, and has to hope this kind of finish can start to turn his season around.
"One of the things I liked about Lance is I felt like I was in the pit box with him all day, and I felt like he was riding with me all day," Earnhardt said. "That was a good feeling. Hopefully we can keep that up."
IRL - Scott Dixon took advantage of the heavy traffic to pass Ryan Briscoe and drive away to a victory on the Milwaukee Mile at West Allis, Wis.
The reigning IndyCar Series champion darted past Briscoe 25 laps from the end of the A.J. Foyt 225 and was not challenged the rest of the way, beating last year's race winner by nearly half the front straightaway.