2009-10-01 / Sports

Johnson Gets Dover Win

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson’s chances for a fourth NASCAR Cup championship received a big boost Sunday, after he won the Dover 400 ahead of his teammate, Mark Martin.

“What a car,” said Johnson. “Obviously we struggled early on, but the team made some great changes and we wound up with an awesome race car.”

Johnson led three times for 271 of the 400 laps. He remains in second place in the Chase, 10 points behind Martin.

“We had a good handling car on the long runs, but it was a handful on the restarts,” said Martin. “I think we did really well by finishing second. We were just off a little bit.”

Martin continues to be the leader in Chase points with eight races remaining.

“The guys in the pits helped me finish where I did, today,” said third-place finisher Matt Kenseth. “The tires were nice, but it was difficult to pass other cars.”

Juan Montoya, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were the remaining top-10 finishers.

The race was red flagged on lap 32 after a violent wreck by the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Chevrolet driven by Joey Logano.

Logano had checked up coming out of turn 4 on lap 31, and was bumped from the rear by Reed Sorenson. Logano’s car slid up the track, and was struck again. Logano’s No. 20 rolled six or seven times, coming to rest on the track apron.

“It scared the heck out of me,” said Logano. “I went low into the corner and had to check up for a car in front of me, and got hit from the back. It was a wild ride. I’m ok, but just a little shaken.”

The other three drivers that were involved, Reed Sorenson, Robby Gordon, and Martin Truex Jr., were ok, but could not continue racing.

Chase leaders after 8 of 10 races: 1. Martin-5400, 2. Johnson- 5390, 3. Montoya-5335, 4. Kurt Busch-5325, 5. Stewart-5294, 6. Hamlin-5292, 7. Newman-5290, 8. J. Gordon-5278, 9. Biffle-5262, 10. Vickers-5249, 11. Edwards-5247, 12. Kahne-5211

Remaining top 25 (non- Chase) drivers: 13. Kenseth-3424, 14. Kyle Busch-3395, 15. Bowyer- 3311, 16. Reutimann-3275, 17. Ambrose-3059, 18. Burton-2968, 19. Mears-2875, 20. Logano-2842, 21. Harvick-2807, 22. Earnhardt- 2789, 23. McMurray-2752, 24. Allmendinger 2689, 25. Sadler-2631

Bowyer wins Dover Nationwide race

While Clint Bowyer was celebrating his second Nationwide Series win of the year, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski were having a different kind of celebration.

The two drivers had an earlier racing incident where Hamlin was spun out by Keselowski, who went on to finish third.

When Keselowski climbed from his car after the race, he was greeted by Hamlin.

“I wanted to talk with him,” said Hamlin. “He needs some sort of guidance. He’s got a ton of talent, and if he can harness it, he will win a ton of races.”

After exchanging words, Hamlin shoved Keselowski, and then members of both pit crews intervened to stop further physical contact.

Keselowski said the problem was all because of Hamlin.

“He cut me off like he always does,” said Keselowski. “I either had to hit the brakes, move down into the infield or hold my position. I chose to hold my spot, and he came down on me.”

Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 28 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-4549, 2. Edwards-4338, 3. Keselowski-4252, 4. Leffler-3749, 5. S. Wallace-3259, 6. Allgaier- 3240, 7. Keller-3125, 8. Bliss-3120, 9. Gaughan-3063, 10. McDowell- 2978

Sauter gets first win in trucks at Vegas

Johnny Sauter won his first Camping World Truck Series race, Saturday at Las Vegas, ahead of teammate Matt Crafton.

Top-10 Truck leaders after 20 of 25: 1. Hornaday-3210, 2. Crafton-3013, 3. Skinner-2955, 4. Scott-2714, 5. Sauter-2647, 6. Bodine 2645, 7. Braun-2632, 8. Crawford 2576, 9. Peters-2573, 10. Starr-2552

Dale Jr. team needs to shape up

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said David Reutimann needed to “sharpen up and polish up his craft a little bit,” after Reutimann got into him during the New Hampshire race two weeks ago.

But if there is any driver or team that needs to “shape up,” it’s Earnhardt’s No. 88 team.

Reutimann drives for Michael Waltrip Racing. MWR teams are not on the same level, equipment wise as Earnhardt and the other three Hendrick teams.

Hendrick teams are always contending, and often winning. Four of the last Cup championships have gone to Hendrick drivers. This year, while teammates Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin were busy laying the groundwork necessary for making the Chase, Earnhardt Jr. has swapped crew chiefs, failed to finish races and is practically guaranteed his worst career finish in the point standings since moving up to the Cup series in 2000.

After leaving familiar surroundings nearly two years ago, from the family-owned business, Earhnardt has yet to show any of the promises that were expected of him.

At the beginning of the 2009 season, his crew chief said, “It would be reasonable to expect four wins this year.”

So far, no wins, which is even worse than last season, when he had one victory at Michigan.

He made the move to Hendrick because he felt the organization provided him with his best opportunity to win races and contend for championships. If that is the case, then either Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t held up his end of the bargain, or the No. 88 team simply isn’t getting the job done.

All this doesn’t mean Earnhardt Jr. isn’t a talented racer, because he has 18 Cup wins. But something isn’t right. The current combination isn’t producing the results that were expected.

The 88 team needs to find and make the necessary changes, that will take them back into victory lane.

Weekend racing: The Nationwide and Cup teams are at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. The Truck Series doesn’t race again until Oct. 24.

Saturday, Oct. 3, Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300, race 29 of 35; starting time: 3 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, Oct. 4, Sprint Cup Price Chopper 400, race 29 of 36; starting time: 1 p.m. (EDT); TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: What year was the Sprint Cup Chase started?

Last week’s question: Which Nationwide Series driver has the most series wins? Answer. Mark Martin’s 48 wins is tops among all drivers.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@ earthlink.net

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