Autism Speaks 400: Winners and Losers
Interesting day at the infamous Monster Mile in our nation's first state here's a look at those who left smiling and those who got bit by the monster.
Jimmie and his crew chief Chad Knaus had an impressive return to form Sunday at Dover with an obviously dominant car and recovering from losing numerous positions on pit road late in the race to beat Tony Stewart for the win in the Autism Speaks 400.
His thrilling battle in the closing laps with then race leader Tony Stewart was definitely one for the highlight reels and as Greg Biffle said post-race proof this cars do provide exciting finishes.
Jimmie was the dominant car the entire race and by winning this his fourth career Dover win puts tied for fourth all-time and tied for first amongst active drivers with teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. The win also gives Johnson a higher sense of security for making the 2009 Chase as he is now 253 points ahead of David Reutimann in 13th place.
Dover finish: Winner
Points: Third, 1789, (64 behind Tony Stewart)
For the first time in over 500 races and driver/owner leaves the racetrack as the leader in the Sprint Cup standings. The last driver to accomplish this feat was the late Alan Kulwicki almost 17 years ago in November of 1992.
In the post-race conference while reflecting on his day Stewart said, "... there's no shame in running second to a guy that lead most the laps all day." Smoke later posted on his twitter feed that while the points are great he has got to get a win.
He has his non-points win from the All-Star race now he is itching to get the real deal in a points paying event and with the current string of finishes both the 14 and 39 teams have put together don't be surprised if it comes very soon.
Dover finish: Second
Points: New Leader, 1853, (46 ahead of Gordon)
I know what your thinking, "how do you consider the guy who finished 34th 147 laps down after an accident a winner?" Allow me to explain.
This is a very minor win for John Andretti and the 34 team but it is still a win. After losing some points to the 36th place team of Scott Speed last week with a substitute driver while Andretti was off chasing milk, Andretti returned and began to make up ground by gaining nine points back.
While nine points may not seem like a lot now but should Andretti have a similar result position-wise next week at Pocono and see Scott Speed DNQ, because Pocono is a very difficult track for first-timers, that 50 points would increase to 111 giving the 34 a chance to breath.
Dover finish: 34th
Owner points: 35th, 938, (50 ahead of No. 82 Red Bull)
Roush Fenway Racing
After some apparent struggles of late and receiving a meager B- during Fox's air filling progress reports during the Charlotte rain delay Roush Fenway Racing had reasons to smile after 400 laps at the Monster Mile. Fox's only reason for giving them a B- was the fact that Matt Kenseth opened up the season by winning Daytona and California.
For one they had one of their drivers in the mix to win in the last 10 laps as Greg Biffle was leading before being overtaken by Stewart and Johnson and finishing third. Also right behind him in fourth was teammate Matt Kenseth.
Also with Carl Edwards finishing seventh and McMurray and Ragan putting in 14th and 24th place finishes respectively Roush Fenway Racing as a team completed all but one lap.
Dover finishes: Biffle-Third
Points: Kenseth-Eighth, 1625, (228 behind Stewart)
Biffle-Ninth, 1618, (235 behind Stewart)
Edwards-11th, 1582, (271 behind Stewart)
McMurray-22nd, 1289, (278 behind 12th place Mark Martin)
Ragan-31st, 1180, (387 behind Martin)
Weekends like this only continue to prove the well-known fact that NASCAR is one of the most charitable organizations in sports today.
By naming the race the Autism Speaks 400 and having PSAs done by NASCAR personalities throughout the race broadcast NASCAR and its partners did wonderful work to spread autism awareness throughout the country and the world.
The placing of the Autism Speaks puzzle piece on logos, programs, tickets, cars, etc. have made the Autism Speaks foundation a household name and will help them in their efforts to find the causes, preventions, treatments and cures for autism.
After having a strong car and spending most of the early stages of the race in the top 10 Hamlin fell victim to a blown right front tire while running in the second position on lap 232.
Although the crew worked feverishly to get Denny back on the track to attempt to gain some points back the damage was just too much and the 11 team was relegated to a 36th place finish dropping them two slots in the points to seventh.
Obviously a disappointing day for the whole team over at JGR and this isn't the last time they will be mentioned in this article because of it.
Dover finish: 36th
Points: Seventh, 1630, (223 behind Stewart)
After a roller coaster week in Charlotte where Gordon went from the excitement and joy of a third place finish in NASCAR's hometown to the despair of a 50 point penalty and crew chief fine and probation a wreck at Dover only worsened the current storm cloud following Robby Gordon.
Robby's day came to an end after David Stremme got loose coming off of turn two which resulted in Gordon and Paul Menard making very hard contact with the inside retaining wall on the back stretch. Luckily for Gordon, who got the worst of the impact, the track had just added safer barriers to that wall.
Dover finish: 33rd
Points: 34th, 1031, (93 points ahead of 35th place Andretti)
Busch has been riding a wave of bad luck especially last weekend when it came to weather and in Saturday's Nationwide race when a tire going down caused contact between him and teammate Logano relegating Busch to a 17th place finish.
That bad luck continued on Sunday and came to a head late in the race when he felt a vibration in the car and came down for new right side tires think one was either loose or going flat. Unfortunately for his team that was not the problem rather a section of the front splitter had become unattached from the car and was flapping around.
Had he known it was just a flapping splitter it would of saved him from that two tire stop and had him finishing somewhere on the lead lap rather than 23rd one lap down to the leaders.
Dover finish: 23rd
Points: Sixth, 1634, (219 behind Stewart)
Poor Stremme found himself involved with two accidents at Dover the first being the aforementioned wreck that sent Menard and Gordon hard into the inside wall on lap 286.
The second on lap 370 was caused when contact from the No. 5 of Mark Martin sent Stremme hard into the inside wall down the front stretch before sliding across the track in turn one and being narrowly avoided by the oncoming David Reutimann.
Stremme has had a rough season consisting of only four top 20 and two top 15 finishes and currently finds himself 29th in points virtually eliminated from Chase contention. Looks like the Dover Monster had his way with Stremme on this day.
Dover finish: 31st
Points: 29th, 1206, (361 behind Martin)
After having impressive finishes in his most recent Sprint Cup races, including a win at Talladega, Keselowski experienced one of the worst lows in Cup racing today, a DNQ.
Back behind the wheel of the 25 development team for Hendrick Motorsports Keselowski laid down a qualifying time of 23.643 seconds at 152.265 miles per hour the 42nd fastest lap time of the session. Unfortunately he was ninth of the 12 go or go home cars and the first to miss the race.
Fortunately for Brad he made up for this loss by winning the Nationwide race on Saturday. Chalk this weekend up as a learning experience and move on.
Dover finish: DNQ
Points: 40th, 479, (1374 behind Stewart)
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