Autism Speaks 400: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst IMay 31, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 31:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, poses in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 31, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Miles the monster all weekend long ate up cars and spit them out. When rain washed off what rubber had been laid down on Saturday Miles the monster was a whole lot scarier. Check out which drivers made the winners list and which drivers were the losers.


Jimmie Johnson

After a disappointing run at His house last week at Lowe’s Motorspeedway, Dover couldn’t have come soon enough. Johnson qualified in the top 10 and ran there all day long in fact he dominated the race, at one point is lead was well over four seconds.

A late caution scrambled the top 10 and force Johnson to battle all the way back u to the front and a late race pass gave Johnson the victory.

This was also team owner Rick Hendrick 11th win at the one mile track.

Johnson once again looked like championship form pulling away from the field. The team once again stayed on top of the track and the changing conditions,that’s exactly what a championship crew and driver are supposed to do.

Johnson said he had to suck it up and charge to the front after the late caution.

Points: Third

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart was just two laps away from winning his first points paying race taking two tires on a late caution only secured them a top five finish in second. He was strong throughout the day, steadily working on the car and putting himself in position to win today.

Stewart could not hold off a hard charging Johnson and will have to wait till next we to try and win. They are so close as an organization and that is a bad sign for the competition.

Stewart is the first owner/driver to lead the points since the late champion Alan Kulwicki and this is the highest Stewart has been in the points in his career.

Points: First

Ryan Newman

At this point there is no surprise with his finish in the last month. Newman wasn’t the best car all day but they stayed on the lead lap and worked on the car. They gambled on a late caution took two tires and finished eighth.

This was another good run for Newman who continues to back up his move from Penske Racing South to Stewart Haas Racing.

He is settling into the top 12 in points and steadily moving forward.

Points: Fifth


Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With all the talk of Dale Earnhardt Jr. switching crew chiefs, now his fans are wondering what now?

Well Earnhardt came out and quickly moved forward after a poor qualifying.

Unlike the last three weeks Earnhardt and new crew chief Lance McGrew made all the right adjustments and had him all the way up to third just over halfway.

Earnhardt looked the best he has looked all year. They did pit off sequence and struggled with the handling in the final 100 laps. He went on to finish 12th, a well needed finish and good sign for whats to come.

Let’s not engrave the championship cup just yet the results have to be consistent before we can call this a comeback.

Points: 18th


Juan Pablo Montoya

With such a strong run last week at Charlotte they came to Dover with high hopes. With a strong qualifying run of third, Sunday they started the race with a lot of confidence.

That quickly changed when after an early run the car started to go backwards, they pitted made an adjustment the car continued to slide backwards. The day all but came to end when they blew a tire was forced to pit.

They struggled all day long and finished 30th.

If they need top 15 finishes to make the Chase then today was there final mulligan.

Points: 15th

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon had a strong car in the first practice but a crash in qualifying forced him to use a backup car and to the back.

They gained 10 positions early and were moving forward. They stayed out during a caution while some of the leaders pitted. They fell behind on adjustments and struggled to recover. They finished 26th.

 In recent weeks this team is in somewhat of a slump, they are securely in the top 12 but they need to stay on defense.

When Gordon found out who he was racing on pit road during a caution stop it was Robby Gordon; Gordon replied “Well that makes my day”. Yep, it was that kind of day.

Points: Second

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick is probably glad that May is over. He has struggled so hard this last month that this team is watching its chase chances slip away.

They were never good in practice on Friday and didn’t have a great qualifying lap. They struggled the whole race and once again were never a factor. They were lapped early and wasn’t until the very end when they were able to get their lap back.

They finished 17th but they are still a ways off compared to the competition and need to get better quick.

Harvick should be glad he is not Earnhardt, because going two plus years without a victory and then to be barely a factor each week, why aren’t the 29 fans screaming for his crew chief job?

Points: 24th

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin was running well within the top ten for most of the day. He was running in second when a tire blew sending him hard into the wall, causing significant damage to the right side of that car. They went straight to the garage.

Hamlin seems to never find the success that his teammate Kyle Busch has, and has openly admitted his disappointment in not winning often and not having the consistency of Busch.  Hamlin has the talent and would have been a factor today instead he finished 36th.

Hamlin is just looking to get a win, and see momentum sway his way for once.

Points: Seventh

Lucky Dog…

Clint Bowyer needed a strong run today. He had been sliding backwards in the last month both on the track and in the standings a strong 11th place finish is just what they needed. Points: 16th

Carl Edwards hasn’t been as dominating as he was last year in 2009. Dover was a true test for this team. They were never a true contender once again but they got a strong run and a good finish in seventh. Points: 11th

Casey Mears it was only a few weeks ago that I called Mears dead in the water. This weekend this team had a strong run and stayed on the lead lap. They were never able to make it up front but this was a good momentum builder heading into next week. A great finish of ninth. Points: 21st

Final Lap…

NASCAR was in the news a lot this week with a meeting with a mandatory meeting with all drivers and owners on Tuesday that many said was very productive and we might see some changes with restarts and even the car in the future.

Come Friday morning this weekend’s race was became the focus and so many drivers were talking about tire wear for today’s race but to be honest it wasn’t tires that were the biggest problem on Sunday.

The final 10 laps was some of the best racing we have seen all year long.

You know Fox takes a lot of slack for “Digger” and for their affection for Kyle Busch and even sometimes the lack of coverage of racing in the back of pack. But in recent weeks we have seen some great racing throughout the field and Fox has covered it all well.

As fans we all complain about the coverage but the Fox team does a great job in explaining the car and the pit stops. It’s tough for them because they have no control in how competitive the car is.

They try to bring us the best coverage. I enjoyed watching racing on Fox for the last nine years and I can’t wait till Daytona when the team is back together.

Race Grade: A­-

Fox Broadcast: A

Don’t forget our very own Mary Jo Buchanan will be down in the pits and covering the race for Bleacher Report next weekend.

See you in the Pocono's!!!


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