JJ WINS SECOND RACE IN LAST THREE POINTS RACES
It was another consistent run in a year of consistency for Dale Jr. With a fourth-place result, he scored his series-high 10th top-10 finish in 13 races this year to move to third in the championship standings. He also is the only driver to complete every lap this season (photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Before Sunday’s race, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s recent history at Dover hadn't been too good, having finished no better than 12th in his last eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in Delaware.
But in a race which featured a 12-car pileup just nine laps in, numerous engine failures and quite a few mistakes on pit road, there was Earnhardt Jr. persevering and finishing a very respectable fourth in Race 13 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
According to Earnhardt Jr., the turnaround in performance on a track that has given him fits as of late is due to crew chief Steve Letarte for giving him a car that could handle the ever-changing track conditions that Dover often brings. It also didn't hurt that Earnhardt Jr. himself drove a patient race on an afternoon when countless competitors found trouble, whether on the track or in the pits.
"We were just a little loose on braking getting into the corner and couldn't really challenge Matt (Kenseth) or anybody really around us," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Wherever you kind of settled in after the restart is kind of where you were. We had a good car though. We had good speed.
"I run as hard as I could run. I didn't have anything left."
NASCAR’s most popular driver’s fourth-place finish marks the 10th time in 13 races this season that he has finished in the top 10 – just two shy of his total from all of last year – and moved him up one spot in the standings to third, only 10 points behind leader Greg Biffle. The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
"We are getting close," Earnhardt Jr. said about finally snapping his nearly four-year winless streak. "We are finishing good when we are not winning. I can't complain too much about how we are doing. We've got some tricky tracks coming up for us. The summer months aren't really my thing – the tracks at least – but hopefully we can have some more good runs."
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson took the win at Dover; marking his seventh victory in 21 races at the speedway, and 57th career win in NASCAR’s premier series. Behind the wheel of a colorfully wrapped No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar car, Johnson led six times for a total of 289 of the 400-lap race. With his seventh win at Dover, he tied NASCAR Hall of Famers “The King” Richard Petty and Bobby “The Matador” Allison for the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins of all-time in Delaware. The win marked Johnson’s second victory and ninth top-10 finish of the year.
"When you lead the most laps, sometimes at the end -- the way the cautions fall -- it can backfire on the dominant car," said Johnson, who wore a multi-colored wig matching the "Madagascar 3" paint scheme on his No. 48 car at his post-race press conference.
"The way the cautions fell [Sunday], it allowed us to really flex our muscle and bring home the win. I'm proud of the effort. It was a brand new race car we brought to the track. We pulled it off the truck, and it was awesome all weekend long."
Matt Kenseth wasn’t exactly thrilled that Johnson dominated at Dover. On the other hand, Kenseth walked away from the Monster Mile just a single point behind Roush Fenway Racing teammate Biffle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead. The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
“I feel good about our position,” said Kenseth, who remained second in points to Biffle for the fourth consecutive race. “Early in the year, you want to be as high as you can in the points. Obviously, if we make the Chase (for the Sprint Cup), they rack up by wins and so that's really what you look at right now. But certainly we know we have got some work to do.”
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Pocono on Sunday, June 10 (1:00 p.m. ET, TNT) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.