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Johnson monsters the Dover mile

The next green flag stint lasted just 11 laps before another engine expired - this time in Jeff Burton's car. That left what turned out to be the final restart with Johnson still dominating from the front, followed by Harvick who had recovered from his earlier pit stop fumble, then Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth. Harvick kept him honest, and the margin was tighter than Johnson had enjoyed over his rivals for much of the day, but he still had 2.5s over everyone else when the chequered flag came out without any further dramas.

"Just a fun day," summed up a completely relaxed Johnson in victory lane. "Clearly we had a fast race car, amazing pit stops. Strategy, when you lead the most laps, sometimes at the end the way the cautions fall it can backfire on the dominant car, and the way cautions fell today, it allowed us to really flex our muscle and bring home the win."

As he celebrated his 57th victory in 376 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after leading over two thirds of the race (289 of 400 laps), Johnson's smile beamed out from under a garishly multi-coloured wig that he had been wearing to match the #48's livery for the day to promote the release of the animated film Madagascar 3, - and he seemed to be enjoying the one-off change of image.

"I'm just proud of this hair!" he joked. "The hair really brought some speed to the team. I could see our engine tuner who is catching the front tires that came across on pit stops, and I got a laugh every time I came on to pit road."

Johnson's high spirits were well deserved, with the victory putting him just 33pts off Greg Biffle in fifth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings, at the midway point of the regular season Race for the Chase. Biffle had finished in 11th place at Dover and found his lead eroded to just one point by Matt Kenseth, who finished third behind Harvick on Sunday. Earnhardt's fourth place this week pushed him up one place above Denny Hamlin the standings.

Full race results and NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings are available.




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