Jimmie Johnson dominated most of the AAA 400 in Dover, Del., on Sunday. He again tamed the Monster Mile and won the third race of The Chase, holding off a late charge by Dale Earnhardt Jr. to capture the win. He led 243 of the 400 laps in the process.
Per Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson is now the all-time leader at Dover.
Matt Kenseth had won the first two races of The Chase, but he couldn't make it three in a row. Here's a look at the final results, per NASCAR. Click the link to see the full results.
|1||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||243|
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||80|
|3||Joey Logano||Penske Racing||0|
|4||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||3|
|5||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||30|
|6||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing||0|
|7||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||36|
|8||Ryan Newman||Stewart-Haas Racing||6|
|9||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||0|
|10||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltip Racing||1|
Johnson has already won five Sprint Cup titles and sits in second place in the current standings. Here are the top 10 drivers in the updated Sprint Cup standings, per NASCAR:
|10||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||2092|
How It Happened
Predictions Come True
Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it close down the stretch, RacingWithRich.com's Richard Allen predicted Johnson would win before the race.
Considering Johnson's success at Dover, that may not be the boldest prediction, but races aren't won on paper. Johnson made all the right moves and stayed consistent. Allen deserves credit for tabbing the winner.
Brief Lead for the Sprint Cup Leader
Before Johnson took over, Matt Kenseth, the overall leader in The Chase, had his moments. He held the lead early, but ultimately finished seventh. Watch him take the lead on Lap 26 in this video.
Per Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Earnhadt Jr. earned bonus points for leading at least a lap in the race.
Kyle Busch! Kenseth, and 88 have earned a bonus point for leading a lap. #NASCAR— Boris for JGR (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 29, 2013
A Good Omen...Maybe Not
The "eights" seemed to be in the right place for Earnhardt Jr. just short of a quarter of the way through the race. NASCAR on ESPN pointed out this favorable coincidence for Earnhardt Jr., but he couldn't make it stick.
The only eight of significance on Sunday was Johnson's eighth win at Dover.
Tight Race but Junior is Back in Control
After faltering briefly, Earnhardt regained the lead. In this tweet with the awesome overhead picture, Earnhardt Jr. passes Ryan Newman after the 75th lap. It really looked like it would be Earnhardt Jr.'s day at this point.
Junior Struggles with Commitment
Some guys struggle with commitment. Apparently, Earnhardt Jr. is one of those guys—in more ways than one. Watch as he misses the commitment line for a pit stop and is forced to do another lap.
Doug Demmons of Rapid City Journal tweets this funny quote from Earnhardt Jr.'s girlfriend.
Junior's girlfriend asks what happened. "He had a problem committing," she is told. "Tell me about it," she replies. #NASCAR— Doug Demmons (@dougdemmons) September 29, 2013
The slip-up cost Earnhardt Jr. the lead and the race. After the race, he owned up to his failure to recognize the commitment line. These tweets from NASCAR on ESPN and Fox Sports NASCAR convey his accountability and disappointment.
"I take responsibility for being a little too eager coming to the pits for that green-flag stop," says #DaleJr— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) September 29, 2013
Halfway at the Monster Mile
With Johnson leading the way at the halfway point, NASCAR's tweet shows just how dominant the Chase drivers have been through the first 200 laps.
Team Hendrick Takeover
The Chase leaders were certainly shining, but more specifically, Team Hendricks Motorsports' drivers were exerting their dominance. The team's official Twitter account just had to let the Twitterverse know which squad was holding down the top three spots.
Jimmie on Top
As the race hit the final 100 laps and continued to the last 50 miles, Johnson had to be thinking that this race was his to lose. NASCAR and NASCAR Stats recognize the No. 48 car's current and past success in these tweets.
Junior's Last-Ditch Effort
Earnhardt Jr. was determined not to give it up easy, as NASCAR tweets:
He made one final charge at Johnson, but the five-time champion was just too fast. It was a thrilling end to another entertaining race at the Monster Mile.
Who has the best chance to win in Kansas?
The Chase hits the Kansas Speedway next week for the Hollywood Casino 400. Kenseth will be looking to strengthen his hold on the top spot, while Johnson hopes to build on his success at Dover.
Perhaps Earnhardt Jr. can find the silver lining in this cloudy Sunday and come out victorious in Kansas. Stay tuned to find out.
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