Jimmie Johnson just keeps winning races, breaking records, and doing it all with a smile.
The seven-time champion and Monster Mile Master won his 11th career race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday after he survived an overtime finish that saw the race end under caution. The win, Johnson’s 83rd of his career and third this season, ties him with his childhood hero and NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list.
Johnson’s 83rd win isn’t just another milestone that he seems to hit almost every week nowadays. It’s tying Cale, the man he grew up idolizing as a dirt bike racer in El Cajon, California. Johnson told a story about him walking into Hardee’s, Yarborough’s sponsor, and thinking it was a race shop. He then realized it was only a burger joint, and not a race shop.
“To be here and tie him at 83 wins is amazing,” Johnson said to FS1 in victory lane. “We just got the tribute helmet. I wasn’t sure how quickly we’d be, or if we’d be able to go there, and get it done. But, Cale, you’re the man. Thank you for all you have done for our sport.”
One more win for Johnson would tie him with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth all-time. You can bet he’ll tie, and pass,those Hall of Famers before the 2017 season ends.
HOW THE NO. 48 WON
Let’s just fast forward to overtime, shall we? That’s not to diminish the great racing that occurred around the one-mile concrete high banks in the preceding 400 laps, but here we go.
Johnson got a great restart, passed Larson coming out of turn two, got to the overtime line and then the caution came out for an 11-car pileup that occurred when a couple cars got squirrely in the speedy dry on the backstretch. Per the NASCAR rulebook, the field was frozen at the time of the yellow, and since the leader passed the overtime line, the race was official—and over.
Kyle Larson led a race-high 241 laps, but was passed by Johnson on the final restart in overtime. Martin Truex Jr. led 102 laps and came home third, while Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five. Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick rounded out the top 10 when the checkered flag flew from Dover.
Some other notable finishers include Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 11th, Matt Kenseth in 13th, Kyle Busch in 16th, Joey Logano in 25th, Clint Bowyer in 31st and Ryan Blaney in 32nd. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed out early in the event and finished in 37th and 38th, respectively.
ANOTHER SECOND FOR LARSON
The Monster Mile resulted in the fifth second-place finish of the season for the driver of the No. 42. But hey, it’s not like it lost it to some slouch. Still, Larson knows he needs to improve.
“Jimmie is the best of our time, probably the best of all time,” Larson told FS1 post-race. “He just has obviously a lot more experience than I do out on the front row late in races and executed a lot better than I did. I’ve got to get better at that and maybe get some more wins.”
NO TIRE, BIG PROBLEM
In the first stage, pole sitter and then race leader Kyle Busch came to pit road for a routine four-tire pit stop with one of the best pit crews in the garage—or so he thought.
The rear tire changer encountered a problem with the air gun while changing the left rear tire and couldn’t get it on in time. The wheel was not secured properly, and ended up coming off the entire wheel well exiting pit road. The No. 18 suffered some damage to the quarter panel, but worked his way into the top five by the time the end of stage two rolled around.
That was until with 38 laps remaining, when another wheel on his car came loose, and Busch was forced to pit. He ultimately came home in 16th place. Translation: everything is not great.
ANOTHER FENCE CLIMBER
Not again! Why do some people have to be so stupid sometimes?
John Infanti, a 43-year-old man was charged with resisting arrest and second-degree trespassing, among other charges, after he climbed the fence in turn four and ended up sitting on the top of it. A caution was not thrown for the man, but all parties are safe and sound.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads North to Long Pond, PA. for the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The XFINITY Series will also be in action from the Tricky Triangle, with the Truck Series in action from Texas Motor Speedway.