Rushville Republican

Sports

June 3, 2014

Johnson builds on track record with 9th Dover win

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Jimmie Johnson handled the pothole at Dover the same way he disposed of a rough patch to start the season.

He won.

A week after shaking off a lengthy winless streak by his championship standards, Johnson raced his way to another routine romp at Dover International Speedway. He followed last week’s victory in the Coca-Cola 600 with another sensational run at Dover, extending his track victory record to nine.

Johnson was the class of the field in a race red-flagged for 22 minutes to repair a pothole in the concrete track.

“Whatever they put in the pothole, it worked awfully well,” Johnson said.

His No. 48 Chevrolet was even better.

Johnson led 272 of 400 laps, and won consecutive races for the 13th time. The six-time Cup champion swept Dover in 2002 and 2009 and won races in 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Brad Keselowski was second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin.

“For sure, when you come to Dover, it’s always the 48,” Kenseth said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get ahead of him.”

Good luck. Johnson’s checkered flag celebrations at Dover have seemingly become a rite of the NASCAR season. He became Dover’s career leader in laps led when he hit the 2,802 mark, and again stamped himself as contender for a series-tying seventh championship.

“It’s amazing that we can stay on top of things here with the different generation car, different rules, different tires,” Johnson said. “This place just fits my style and (crew chief) Chad Knaus’ style.”

His lone regret, that owner Rick Hendrick was not at the track.

Johnson is heating up right as the NASCAR heads into its summer schedule. Up next, Pocono, where Johnson won last season and has two other wins.

“We can get on a roll,” he said. “We’ve got some good tracks ahead of us.”

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