NASCAR

AAA 400 2013: Drivers Who Gained the Most at Dover

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 29, 2013 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Austin GreenCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2013

Jimmie Johnson dominated at Dover International Speedway, but he wasn't the only Chase driver to benefit from Sunday's race. 

The top-10 at Dover was populated entirely by Chase drivers, who are stepping up their individual games for the final races of the season. With just seven races left before the cup is handed out, the following drivers greatly helped themselves on Sunday. 

 

Kyle Busch

Sep 29, 2013; Dover, DE, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) during the AAA 400 at Dover Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson leapfrogged Busch in the Chase standings, but with his third consecutive top-five finish, the man in the No. 18 car stayed in the thick of the championship conversation. 

Busch has been excellent in recent weeks, stringing together consecutive second-place finishes at Chicago and New Hampshire. He continued his strong driving at Dover, leading 30 laps before settling for a fifth-place finish. 

After a rough 2012 season, Busch looks determined to leave his mark on 2013. Given that he's just 12 points out of first place, he's as dangerous as anyone else in the sport right now. 

 

Jeff Gordon

Sep 29, 2013; Dover, DE, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) during the AAA 400 at Dover Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Gordon recovered nicely after a disappointing run at the Sylvania 300, leading three laps on his way to a fourth-place finish at Dover. 

Gordon was far from perfect, but it was nice to see him get back on track after struggling. Thanks to his performance on Sunday, as well as a sixth-place finish in Chicago, he is tied for fourth in the Chase. 

Unfortunately, Gordon is 39 points out of first place, and with the top three drivers at the peak of their games, he would need a near-miracle to snatch the cup. However, Gordon, undoubtedly, has the talent to pull off the improbable comeback. 

If he can build on his positive momentum from Dover, Gordon will be in the heart of the title race until the end. 

 

Jimmie Johnson

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 29, 2013 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Johnson, obviously, gained the most on Sunday, using a vintage performance to move into second place in the Chase standings. Now, JJ is just eight points behind leader Matt Kenseth. 

Johnson was predictably great at Dover, claiming his eighth win at the track. He has improved in each Chase race, thus far, finishing fifth, fourth and first. He is right on Kenseth's heels, and he looks primed to win his seventh career Chase. 

Look for Johnson to continue his dominant run next Sunday at Kansas Speedway. 

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