Who’s in the headline – There are horses for courses and some courses for horses. When it comes to Dover International Speedway and Jimmie Johnson, they are the perfect match. Johnson swept both Dover races in his rookie season, and after winning the race on Sunday, he now has 11 career wins at the track. He has dominated some races at the concrete half mile while during other races he’s only led a small number of laps. Today was the latter as he only led seven laps to score the 83rd career victory.
What happened – Kyle Busch started on pole but had a pit road issue take him out of contention early. Kyle Larson dominated much of the race while Martin Truex Jr. picked up many of the scraps that Larson left behind. Ty Dillon delayed pitting late in the race and used a strong pit stop to garner the lead. He almost pulled off the stunning win, but Larson chased him down late in the race to grab the point. Johnson made a strong restart on his final opportunity and led the last three circuits of the race to score the win.
Why you should care – The crowd at Dover was better than it has been for the past few races. The racing was average at best, with three on-track passes for the lead. The tire that Goodyear provided gave up and, due to a reduced allotment of tires, many teams had to make strategy calls to get their cars to the end on decent tires. The strategy was enjoyable but the clean air advantage for cars in front is still too dramatic and affords the front car too great of an advantage. Watching cars work from the back of the pack to the front, thanks to pit road errors or violations made for some compelling watching. In the end, the ability of good cars to move all of the way to the point was encouraging but it is still too difficult for a car that is obviously superior.
What your friends are talking about
Once again, stability in the world of Cup racing is too much to ask for. With the addition of segment racing in 2017, the strategy and complexity of races has changed significantly. With the general acceptance by race teams and stakeholders of the sport NASCAR is now considering new tweaks to the points for 2018.
It is a possibility that after the 600 saw the addition of a fourth stage, there may be more races next season that will have a fourth and possibly a fifth stage. We are on the verge of double points races, the five stages of Bristol night race and random point generators.
Watkins Glen is close to announcing the new entitlement sponsor for its Cup race. There is still no sign of the Cup cars running the boot.
After Kyle Busch’s tire loss, Larry McReynolds pointed out that the rule book dictates a four-race suspension for the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier for a tire that comes off during a race. The rule came about when teams were only tightening three lug nuts for the sake of speed during pit stops. A mistake during a stop that results in a tire falling off should be a different offense. However, the rules are the rules so, if it is applied to the No. 18 team, it would be understandable.
Roger Penske says, sooner rather than later, he’d like to add Ryan Blaney as a third driver for Team Penske. The partnership with the Wood Brothers has the No. 21 basically under the Penske umbrella but it isn’t officially part of the organization. Whatever the case, Blaney is showing very promising ability and a win is most likely going to happen sooner rather thank later considering he already has three stage wins this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was quite sad he would have to drive a Philadelphia Eagles paint scheme for the Pocono race on June 11. The longtime Redskins fan asked his boss if he could get out of it, but was told he had to do it. Fortunately for Earnhardt, he’s been given a reprieve as the NFL has a policy that team logos/emblems cannot be used to market another sport. While seeing the flood of memes surrounding pictures of Earnhardt in an Eagles driver suit would have been humorous it will have to wait for another day.
Who is mad
Ty Dillon was 40 laps away from scoring his first victory in the Cup Series, just one week after his brother garnered his first. Unfortunately, he was passed for the lead and later involved in the contact that started the huge wreck that brought out the final caution of the race. Instead of a top ten finish, Dillon ended up in a wrecked race car with a 14th place result.
Kyle Busch started the race from the pole and led the first 18 laps before the first caution of the event. During the pit stops under yellow, Busch’s crew had an issue with the left-rear tire. As he left the pits, the left rear tire of his car came off and he was forced to return to the pits. He battled back toward the front for the remainder of the race but, in the end, it was a 16th place finish and many unanswered questions.
Who is happy
Danica Patrick finished in the top 10 for seventh time in her career and the first time since the spring Bristol race in 2015. Patrick has been under fire this season thanks to the lawsuit pertaining to her sponsorship with Nature’s Bakery. The rumors that she is going to be out of a ride at the end of the year are seemingly louder than they’ve ever been. Knocking out a couple of top 10s this season might help squelch those rumors, or it might intensify them.
Chase Elliott continues to knock on the door of a victory but hasn’t quite made it over the hump yet. Sunday he worked his way toward the front for much of the event and ended up knocking off a top-five finish for the 14th time in the last two years.
When the checkered flag flew:
- Jimmie Johnson scored the 83rd victory of his Cup career in his 556th career start.
- The win is the 11th of his career at Dover International Speedway.
- This is Johnson’s third triumph of 2017, most in the series.
- Johnson is tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the All-Time wins list. He is one behind Darrell Waltrip for fifth.
- Kyle Larson finished second for the sixth top two result of 2017 in 13 races.
- Larson has two career runner-ups at Dover.
- This was Larson’s 11th career second place finish. That ties him for 60th on the All-Time list with Clint Bowyer, Darel Dieringer, Paul Goldsmith, Alan Kulwicki, and Tim Richmond.
- Martin Truex Jr. came home third for the second race in a row and his fourth top three of 2017.
- Truex has three podium finishes at Dover and two in a row.
- In his career Truex has 34 podium finishes, good enough for 61st on the All-Time list.
- Daniel Suarez finished sixth in the race to claim Rookie of the Race honors.
Thirteen races into the season there have been nine different winners this year. With 13 races left before the playoff cutoff, if there are nine new winners, someone with a win will not make the playoffs. That said, there most likely won’t be 17 unique winners. For now you have Jimmie Johnson with most wins of the year with three. Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. with two wins, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon with one each. In the nine winners Joey Logano is not eligible for the playoffs by virtue of his triumph being considered encumbered at Richmond. Logano will have to win again to make the playoffs based on a victory.
The remaining eight drivers in points and their position:
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Jamie McMurray
- Chase Elliott
- Denny Hamlin
- Clint Bowyer
- Joey Logano
- Matt Kenseth
The drivers who have scored playoff points so far this season and their total:
Martin Truex Jr – 18
Jimmie Johnson – 15
Brad Keselowski -12
Kyle Larson – 7
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 5
Ryan Newman – 5
Kurt Busch – 5
Austin Dillon – 5
Kevin Harvick – 3
Ryan Blaney – 3
Kyle Busch – 3
Chase Elliott – 2
Denny Hamlin – 2
Joey Logano – 1
Matt Kenseth – 1
What is in the cooler (one to six beers where one is a stinker and six is an instant classic)
With a total of three on-track passes for the lead, the race topped the Coca-Cola 600 by one. The racing was hardly exciting but it was entertaining. The finish was a bit less than what most had hoped for, but Johnson did manage to make some more history tying Yarborough’s win total. The average race with disappointing final lap results in a rating of three cold Burton Batons from Dogfish Head Brewery.[poll id=”11″]
Where do you point your DVR for next week – The next race on the schedule is the three turn, 2.5 mile Pocono Raceway. Race coverage begins at 3:00 on Sunday, June 11th. It can be seen on FS1. The event can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate, www.motorracingnetwork.com and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.