DOVER, Del. — Jimmie Johnson’s Sunday win in the Autism 400 at Dover was nothing less than incredible.Johnson, who led 298 laps of the 400-lap race, took on four tires with 30 laps to go. Many other teams only got two. The two extra tires cost Johnson 11 positions. He went from first to 11th.
It was a lot of ground to make up and a lot of cars to pass. But Johnson put his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in overdrive and caught the leader, Tony Stewart, six laps from the finish.
Johnson and Stewart raced side-by-side for the next three times around the one-mile oval, and treated the fans to some exciting racing. But near the end, Johnson’s four new tires made the difference. He was able to pass Stewart, who had only two new tires, three laps later.
“I really had to suck it up and get going there at the end,” said Johnson. “But the only reason I could do it was because we had an awesome race car today. We’ve had a lot of fast cars, but this was a special one.
“At the end I just had to go. I got to running around at the top of the track with Tony and had a heck of a time.”
Stewart’s runner-up finish allowed him to take over as the new Sprint Cup points leader.
“The fastest car won the race today for sure,” said Stewart. “I’m just excited for our guys that we’re able to run as good as we do. We really didn’t have a second-place car, but my guys on the pit crew did an awesome job there at the end and got me some track position.”
Top 10 finishers: 1. Johnson, 2. Stewart, 3. Greg Biffle, 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Kurt Busch, 6. Kasey Kahne, 7. Carl Edwards, 8. Ryan Newman, 9. Casey Mears, 10. Mark Martin.
Top 12 Chase contenders after 13 of 26: 1. Stewart-1,853, 2. J. Gordon-1,807, 3. Johnson-1,789, 4. Kurt Busch-1,762, 5. Newman-1,680, 6. Kyle Busch-1,634, 7. Hamlin-1,630, 8. Kenseth-1,625, 9. Biffle-1,618, 10. Burton-1,587, 11. Edwards-1,582, 12. Martin-1,567.