NASCAR »

Johnson monsters the Dover mile

Before Gordon could deliver on that threat, the track was under caution for David Reutimann's engine blowing up. Martin's car was clearly not what it had been earlier in the day and he soon lost places to Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon in quick succession. Of them all, it was Jeff Gordon who was really on it and who picked up the gauntlet thrown down by his team mate, leaving old friends Busch and Harvick to discuss third place amongst themselves.

Harvick has just won that battle when the third caution was out: Carl Edwards had hit the wall in turn 2 on lap 164: "Our front right tire went flat, I don't know exactly why," he said. "Hopefully we can get back out there and get some points. It is so frustrating to have that good of a car [and go out.] I love racing here."

After a round of pit stops under the yellow, the restart saw a Hendrick 1-2-3 at the front with Johnson and Gordon now joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr. ahead of Harvick and Kenseth. Kyle Busch, meanwhile, was far away from the front in 19th place after having to come back into pit lane a second time because of a loose tyre; even after that second stop there was something seriously wrong with the #18, and just past the halfway point of the 400-lap race the engine breathed its last and Busch had no choice but to crawl into the garage area and call it a day.

"Unfortunately we had a valve spring break and then dropped the valve, which hit the pistons,” said Busch, a two-time winner at Dover in 2008 and 2010. "It's real unfortunate. You know, we had good car. We were running up front there. We were biding our time."

Johnson had been leading and it looked like the two Hendricks cars were formation flying (Earnhardt had been picked off by Harvick for third, however). Sure enough, Johnson did all but roll out the red carpet to invite Gordon to take up residency in the lead for a while, which lasted through another round of pit stops under a debris caution on lap 226. Gordon and Johnson resumed at the front, but Kevin Harvick overshot his pit stall and dropped down to 19th place as a result leaving Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer on the second row for the restart ahead of Earnhardt.

But Gordon's strong run was about to hit a problem: on lap 249 he slowed and radioed in to his pit crew that the car felt "weird", forcing him into an unscheduled and costly pit stop for an emergency diagnosis.

"I'm not really sure what happened, but obviously something happened," he said later. "We definitely had a loose left rear. It didn't go on right to begin with and the left-rear tire-changer knew that. And so when I started to complain about it, we knew that there might be an issue there and there was. So, in some ways we got fortunate today. I could have stayed out there and wrecked because it wasn't really vibrating [but] it was getting real loose."

With Martin no where in sight and Gordon also out of the running, that left Johnson virtually unchallenged for the rest of the afternoon, almost 4s ahead of Kenseth. Because of his off-sync pit stops, Gordon did briefly retake the lead on lap 300 when everyone else came in for their next routine fuel-and-tyres call, but then he was in himself was in on lap 325 and promptly dropped off the lead lap and down to 19th position, although at least he needed no more pit stops to make it the full distance

But any remaining hopes Gordon might have had of recovering were dashed when a debris caution came out on lap 5. Gordon got his lap back as everyone else came in for their final round of stops, but there was little hope he would be able to get all the way back to the front in the remaining 60 laps. When a sixth caution came out almost immediately after the restart for Kurt Busch's engine blowing up, Gordon at least had an opportunity to pit for fresh rubber to try and make a go of it, but in the end 13th place immediately in front of Mark Martin would be the best he could achieve.

"We don't care about finishing top 15 or top 10 right now, that does nothing for us [in the championship standings.] We need wins," he said. "The fastest car doesn't always win the race. We're sitting here in 13th or whatever - it's silly."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, races Mark Martin, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 3, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Madagascar Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 3, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, Regan Smith, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/CSX Chevrolet, and Landon Cassill, driver of the #83 Burger King Toyota, and others are involved in an incident early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 3, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finished in 5th position and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS finished in 12th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Kahne, who was also in the Chase, did not advance. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 26th position and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS finished in 13th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Gordon, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished in 9th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members work on the Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, in the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, races Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch. August 20 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth at Watkins Glen. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualified for 39th position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who is in the Chase, is 4th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, poses after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.