Jimmie Johnson held off teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win Sunday's AAA 400 from Dover International Speedway.
|Courtesy of Justin Heiman/Getty Images|
Johnson had to hold off Earnhardt after a questionable call on the final pit stop that saw Johnson take two tires and Earnhardt taking four. Johnson said he knew his team made the right call.
"Two worked good for us in practice," Johnson told ESPN in victory lane. "Junior drove a great race, but track position really gave us the advantage we needed to hold them off."
Johnson's victory helped him move up to second place in the points, now only eight points behind Matt Kenseth for the points lead. Johnson said the title hunt is only going to get harder as the season winds down.
"When you put the 18 [of Kyle Busch] and 20 [of Kenseth] up there, it's going to be a really hard deal," Johnson said. "It'll be fun for the fans to watch."
Johnson told ESPN that this win was exactly what he needed.
"We came in here today and did what we had to do," Johnson said.
Earnhardt started on the pole for the AAA 400, and he led the field to the green flag. Earnhardt led for the first 26 laps, until points-leader Kenseth took the lead. Earnhardt re-took the lead from Kenseth on lap 31.
On lap 37, the first caution of the day came out for debris in Turn 1. Under the caution, Kyle Busch won the race off pit road to take the lead.
Busch led the field back to the green flag on lap 42, and he cleared the leaders going into Turn 1.
On lap 71, Ryan Newman took the lead after the handling on Busch's car started to go away. Newman only held the lead for five laps, because Earnhardt was able to take the lead on lap 76.
On lap 110, green flag pit stops began for the leaders. Earnhardt tried to pit his car on lap 118, but he missed pit road, causing him to lose precious time on the track. When he came back on the track after making his stop, he was behind Johnson.
The second caution of the day came out on lap 165 for debris. The leaders pitted under caution, and Kenseth won the race off pit road.
Kenseth took the green flag on lap 171, and he led until lap 198 when Johnson took the lead.
The third caution came out on lap 226, after Brad Keselowski dropped oil on the track.
Johnson cleared the field heading into Turn 1 after the race restarted on lap 236. Johnson led until green flag pit stops began again on lap 312, and he brought his car to pit road. That allowed Earnhardt to take the lead until he pitted on lap 314.
After stops had cycled around, Johnson took over the lead again.
The race looked like it would come down to fuel mileage until the final caution of the day came out on lap 370 for debris. The leaders pitted for fuel, and Johnson won the race off pit road after taking only two tires.
The race restarted on lap 375, and Johnson led the field into Turn 1. Earnhardt, who took four tires under the final caution, closed in on Johnson's back bumper, but Johnson held him off to win his eighth career race at Dover.
Here are the unofficial results:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Joey Logano
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Kyle Busch
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Ryan Newman
9. Greg Biffle
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Brian Vickers
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Jeff Burton
15. Martin Truex Jr.
16. Marcos Ambrose
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
18. Paul Menard
19. Mark Martin
20. Denny Hamlin
21. Kurt Busch
22. Aric Almirola
23. Juan Pablo Montoya
24. Casey Mears
25. David Ragan
26. AJ Allmendinger
27. Cole Whitt
28. David Reutimann
29. Danica Patrick
30. David Gilliland
31. Travis Kvapil
32. Ryan Truex
33. Dave Blaney
34. J.J. Yeley
35. Carl Edwards
36. Timmy Hill
37. Brad Keselowski
38. Landon Cassill
39. Joe Nemechek
40. Tony Raines
41. Reed Sorenson
42. Josh Wise
43. Michael McDowell
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the fourth race of the Chase. The Hollywood Casino 400 can be seen next Sunday at 1 p.m., only on ESPN.