Parks Race Reactions: AAA 400 at Dover

Dustin ParksAnalyst ISeptember 28, 2009

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 27, 2009 in Dover, Delaware. NASCAR Official Rodney Wise handed off the flag to Johnson. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

A lot of times when a driver dominates a race, usually it would be expected to see that driver take the checkered flag. It is not very often that a driver dominates both races at the same track.

On Sunday, that fact became a reality as it was Jimmie Johnson winning the AAA 400 at Dover. The No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet was out front for 271 of the 400 laps, including the final 224. There was no better team at Dover in 2009 than the defending champions.

In this edition of Parks Race Reactions, I'll examine what Johnson's win means for his status in the Chase. Also, I'll give you a look at some of the other drivers that made noise in Sunday's race.

I will start off by actually going back to the beginning of the race. The big highlight that has everyone talking was Joey Logano's crash just 31 laps into the race. His barrel roll in turns 3 and 4 was reminiscent of Michael McDowell's crash last year in Texas. Ten flips probably felt like 20 to Logano while in the driver's seat.

Finally, after the rolls, the car ended up on the driver's side, only to seemingly bounce back onto it's wheels like a pogo-stick.

Finally, with the fans holding their breath, Logano climbed out of his mangled race car. Despite visibly shaken by the wreck, there was not a scratch on his body. Logano walked to the ambulance under his own power.

What his wreck proves, just like McDowell's, is that this new car is all about safety. In both instances, the driver got out of the car and walked away. Even though some drivers complain about how the car handles, it has proved to be very safe.

Now, onto other drivers that were impressive on Sunday. It was certainly a great rebound for Matt Kenseth as he came home in third. After having a rough season following his wins at Daytona and California, his season has been a disaster. He showed a lot at Dover, and he will quite possibly get back to victory lane by season's end.

One guy who wasn't on the radar all day until it mattered most was Mark Martin. The No. 5 team struggled all weekend, never getting a handle on the car.

But, when it was time to battle for the win, there's Martin in the thick of it. His patience paid off as he finished runner-up to his teammate.

If Martin wants to win the title, he's got to keep his momentum up. Finishing first and second in the first two Chase races is a great way to start. Heading into next week at Kansas, he is once again a favorite as he has won this race before.

The fact that Martin is still the points leader shows me that he truly does want to win this title. He may not speak of it, or want to acknowledge it, but you can tell he want to win. I said that Martin was my pick for the championship, and so far, that pick has been accurate.

Finally, what else can be said about Johnson's performance. There was no car that could compete with him all weekend. The No. 48 team is putting more effort into winning their fourth-straight title than they did winning their third.

The big difference is that when Johnson won his third title, he had a lot of momentum going into the Chase. He won the two races leading up to the Chase, and won multiple races while competing for the title. The team had a lot of momentum, and by that time the title was theirs to lose.

This time, Johnson and crew are looking for the momentum they had last year. After winning the Brickyard, the No. 48 team didn't look like the defending champions.

Now, after this dominant victory, they certainly have some of that momentum back. Even a push to victory lane after blowing the engine didn't dampen his spirits.

Johnson came into Dover 35 points out of the points lead, but is now just ten behind Martin. That could be big as next weekend is Kansas.

Both these drivers have done exceptionally well at Kansas, each turning in a winning performance. Look for both of them to run hard and be up front early and often. It could quite possibly come down to these two not only in the race, but the championship.

The Price Chopper 400 at the Kansas Speedway will definitely be interesting. Coverage begins on ABC at 1 p.m.


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