Late Race Pass Leads to Win in Dover for Johnson; Dixon Nabs 2nd Win of 2009 in Milwaukee
Dixon, Briscoe and Franchitti Celebrate in Milwaukee (Photo: Dan Helrigel, IndyCar Media)
DOVER, DE - Hendrick Motorsports rebounded from a tumultuous week to notch another win in 2009. Jimmie Johnson swooped past Tony Stewart with two laps remaining to win the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover. Johnson hounded Stewart over the final few laps on the concrete and finally caught him with an outside pass. Johnson won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup series race of the season and earned his fourth career Cup victory at Dover.
“We just couldn’t hold off Jimmie,” Stewart said after the race. “He was like a freight train coming.”
Johnson dominated most of the race and led 298 laps after leading only 12 laps combined in the previous six races. Johnson, the three-time defending Cup champion, had a slow pit stop with 36 laps left, dropping him from the lead. After his crew chief, Chad Knaus, told Johnson he would catch Stewart, Johnson pulled out his 42nd 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.”
Tony Stewart assumed the championship points lead heading to Pocono next week. Stewart grabbed the lead from Jeff Gordon who had a miserable day at Dover. Gordon started from the rear of the field after crashing during qualifying. Gordon ran two laps down in his backup car most of the race and finished 26th.
Johnson is in search of his fourth championship and should be in the thick of things when the series comes to Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20-22 for Ford Championship Weekend.
MILWAUKEE, WI- Last year, Ryan Briscoe gave team owner Roger Penske his 300th victory in IndyCar competition. Last week at Indianapolis, Coral Gables resident Helio Castroneves gave Team Penske its 15th win at the famed oval. Ryan Briscoe returned to Milwaukee and started from where he finished last year at Milwaukee… at the front. Briscoe snared his first pole position start in 2009 and his fifth pole overall. Miami’s Castroneves was attempting to become only the 10th driver to win the Indy 500 and follow the feat with a win at the historic Milwaukee Mile. Unfortunately for Castroneves a qualifying crash relegated him to the rear of the field.
"We tried something different out there in qualifying from what we ran in practice," said Castroneves after clouting the Turn 2 wall.
However, the reigning IndyCar Series champion and defending champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Scott Dixon had other ideas. After a solid qualifying run that landed Dixon a fourth-place starting spot, Dixon marched to the front and was a factor from the outset.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, passed Ryan Briscoe's No. 6 Team Penske car on the backstretch of Lap 201 and went on to win the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at Milwaukee.
"I definitely think from the start our car was better," said Dixon in an interview from Milwaukee. "We could run quick times when we needed to and we were good in traffic. We had many runs on Briscoe and he kind of blocked a lot and that was kind of frustrating early on.”
Miami’s Raphael Matos rebounded from his late-race crash at the Indy 500 to score a strong sixth-place finish for Luczo Dragon Racing. While battered and bruised Key Biscayne resident Tony Kanaan, a two-time winner at Milwaukee, started third beside Scott Dixon. Kanaan led early before a fire in the pits ended his day.
Dario Franchitti finished third and Graham Rahal was fourth. Danica Patrick finished in fifth place, her fourth consecutive top-five finish. Scott Dixon wrestled the season championship points lead away from teammate Dario Franchitti by four points heading into the next race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. Dixon looks to be a championship contender when the series stages a high speed assault on the 18-20 degree variable banked Homestead-Miami Speedway during the Firestone Indy 300 Oct. 10. The IndyCar Series Championship will be decided at THE Championship Tracksm in October during the NextEra Energy Resources SpeedJam Championships.