Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Johnson Looks to Take Hold of Chase Lead at Dover

To say that Denny Hamlin’s victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was a dominating effort could be the understatement of the season. Despite Hamlin’s #11 Camry being head and shoulders above the competition during the preliminary practice sessions, his performance in the race was still surprising.

Starting 32nd due to a crew mistake before his qualifying run, Hamlin methodically worked his way through the field. Despite New Hampshire’s reputation for being a track difficult to pass on, Hamlin moved forward ahead of schedule and took the lead just before lap 100 of the Sylvania 300. He would go on to lead 193 laps in an old-fashioned romp at Loudon. With the victory, Hamlin moves up to 3rd in the points standings, seven adrift of new leader Jimmie Johnson.

With Hamlin running such a dominating car, the rest of the field could only fight for runner-up. Jimmie Johnson won that battle, moving up from 20th to second giving him points lead.


Chicago winner Brad Keselowski finished well also, but his sixth-place effort was not enough to maintain the points lead. However, he trails Johnson by just one point.

Several other Chase drivers ran well Sunday. In fact, Chase drivers took the top seven finishing positions, mirroring the July race at New Hampshire.

Jeff Gordon recovered nicely from his mishap at Chicago, winning the pole and finishing third. Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top 5, backing up good runs at Chicago. Kahne and Bowyer sit tied for fifth in points, 15 points behind Johnson. Behind Keselowski was Tony Stewart, who parlayed a good third-place qualifying run into a seventh-place finish. He has now finished no worse than seventh in the last three races.

The other Chase drivers did not fare as well as they might have liked. Kevin Harvick just missed a top 10 finish, crossing the line in 11th. Harvick’s finish, combined with 17th and 18th-place runs by Martin Truex, Jr. and Greg Biffle, move him up to eighth in points, 31 behind first. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth were the other two Chase drivers to miss the top 10, finishing 13th and 14th, respectively.

The points standings going to Dover look like this:


Points (Behind)

Jimmie Johnson

2096 (–)

Brad Keselowski

2095 (-1)

Denny Hamlin

2089 (-7)

Tony Stewart

2086 (-10)

Kasey Kahne

2081 (-15)

Clint Bowyer

2081 (-15)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

2070 (-26)

Kevin Harvick

2065 (-31)

Greg Biffle

2063 (-33)

Martin Truex, Jr.

2062 (-34)

Matt Kenseth

2064 (-35)

Jeff Gordon

2051 (-45)

This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400. The one-mile oval has hosted a Chase race every year since the inception of the playoff format in 2004.

Jimmie Johnson has shown himself to be the dominant driver on the track, especially in the fall Chase event. Johnson has won 7 career races at Dover, including 4 of the last 7.

Johnson has been even more effective in Dover when it counts most. In the eight Chase races at Dover, Johnson has won three. He has also finished no worse than 14th in any fall Dover event, spanning 10 races. He has to be the favorite this weekend.

If anyone is to challenge him, expect it to be Matt Kenseth. Matt’s numbers are also very impressive at Dover. He has 12 top 10 finishes in the last 15 races there, including 10 finishes in the top five. He has wins in 2006 and 2011.

Kenseth should be strong this weekend. I also foresee Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex, Jr. running up front on Sunday. This weekend may be the breaking point for many of the Chasers, separating the contenders from the pretenders.

Coverage of Sunday’s race starts at noon on ESPN. Tune in!

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *