Hendrick Dominance Continues at The Monster Mile
Photo by Wesley Daniel / TheRacingExperts.Com
Jimmie Johnson's 2012 Coca Cola 600 paint scheme. Johnson has had an average finish of 10.6 this season.
By Dominic Aragon
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ first of two stops at Dover International Raceway proved to be an eventful one.
FOX closed their chapter on 2012 coverage until the Budweiser Shootout next season, while lead pit reporter Dick Bergerren closed the chapter on a career that has lasted over 40 years in this industry.
Trouble started early in the 400 mile race, as Tony Stewart and Landon Cassill tangled on lap nine, setting off a thirteen car demolition derby behind them. Cassill would finish 38th, while Stewart would go on to finish the race in 25th, over 65 laps down. The thirteen car wreck would be the biggest wreck of the season, putting the race under a red flag condition for about 20 minutes.
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps on Sunday and cruised to victory, scoring his second win of the season. Johnson’s 57th career win extends Hendrick Motorsports’ winning streak to five races, including the Sprint Showdown and Sprint All Star Race.
Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. led one lap en route to a 4th place finish. Earnhardt Jr. is the first driver to score double digit top-10 finishes in 2012. He also continues the streak of completing every lap this season, the only driver to do so, expanding his personal total to fourteen races.
Jeff Gordon, who started 14th, showed muscle on short and long runs, leading 60 laps throughout the day. A loose wheel shortly after a restart had the No. 24 team come down pit road to acquire four new tires. His off-sequence strategy did not pay off, as he was 21st, one lap down when a debris caution was thrown. Although he was able to finish on the lead lap, Gordon finished 13th.
“We had the best car, we had the car to win the race,” said four time champion Jeff Gordon. “It’s unfortunate we put ourselves in that position, and we paid the price. We still had a shot at winning this race and it was going to possibly work out in our favor. I think we should’ve won this race … [I’m] proud of all these guys on the DuPont Chevrolet, but I’m just tired of these same old things, something, one way or another just getting us when we have the best car out there.”
David Reutimann, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Burton were the drivers who would fall victim to engine woes throughout the race. “Normally, Dover’s not that hard on engines,” Larry McReynolds pointed out from the broadcast booth.
Busch is facing the possibility of yet another penalty within the next few days, after he said a profanity toward a member of the media. Busch spoke with NASCAR officials Sunday before the race, but Busch declined to comment on what was exchanged in the meeting.