[media-credit id=26 align=”alignright” width=”230″][/media-credit]Jimmie Johnson, complete with his Madagascar No. 48 car and wig, mastered the Monster Mile for the seventh time, tying Bobby Allison and the King, Richard Petty, for the most career wins at Dover International Speedway.
This was Johnson’s 57th victory in 376 Cup races and his second victory in 2012.
“I’m just proud of this hair,” Johnson said, still rocking his Madagascar wig. “It brought some speed to the team.”
“It was just a fun day,” Johnson continued. “We had a fast car and amazing pit stops.”
“When you lead the most laps, sometimes it can backfire on a dominant car,” Johnson said. “It was a brand new race car so I’m just proud of the effort.”
“The car was really good,” Chad Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief, said. “Jimmie’s the man here.”
“He understands this race track and enjoys coming here,” Knaus continued. “We enjoy it as well.”
Kevin Harvick, in the No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, was not able to live up to his ‘Closer’ moniker, but did finish in the runner up spot, maintaining his seventh position in the point standings. This was Harvick’s 18th top-10 finish at the Monster Mile.
“The 48 just had us covered today,” Harvick said. “But all in all our Jimmy John’s guys did a good job.”
“I made a mistake on pit road, but we had a car capable of making up positions and drive back through the pack,” Harvick continued. “We were able to keep up with the race track and that was the key to get in position to at least give ourselves a chance.”
“We had a solid race.”
The driver of the No. 17 Best Buy Ford, Matt Kenseth, came in third in the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks. He remains second in the point standings, just one point behind his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle.
“We honestly struggled,” Kenseth said of his race. “But I’m happy to come home third in a car that didn’t drive the way we wanted it.”
“I feel good about our points position obviously,” Kenseth continued. “But certainly, we know we have some work to do.”
“I don’t think anyone could run with the 48 so we have some work to do.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., behind the wheel of the No. 88 AMP Energy/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driving the No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, rounded out the top five.
“We needed a little more grip in the front end,” Junior said. “We had a good car though.”
“We had a good run and a good points day,” Junior continued, moving up one spot to third in points, just ten back from the leader. “I want to congratulate Jimmie my teammate.”
“It was a solid weekend,” Bowyer said. “I had a tough day on pit road, but we could battle back on restarts.”
“I’m proud of the effort and MWR had good cars all weekend long.”
The race was marred by a monstrous crash early in the race, in fact on Lap 9, involving thirteen cars. This was the most cars in a wreck to date in the 2012 season.
Drivers from Regan Smith to Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Landon Cassill, to name a few, were involved in the melee, which brought out the red flag for 19 min 54 seconds.
“I actually didn’t even feel him (Tony Stewart) touch me,” Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota, said. Cassill’s car bore the brunt of the multiple-car pileup.
“I was just passed by the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray) and I was trying to dime in the corner a little bit more,” Cassill continued. “He (Stewart) was just barely there.”
“Tony is one of the most patient drivers and especially in this part of the race,” Cassill said. “It’s just too bad that it tore up that many race cars.”
Regan Smith, behind the wheel of the No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play It Safe Chevrolet, took responsibility for the wreck.
“I know I got in the back of the 14 and spun him,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of wrecked race cars here and none of us like that, especially on Lap 9.”
For Tony Stewart’s part, the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, said that it was a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“As far back as we were, I didn’t have the luxury of being patient,” Smoke said. “It’s just a crappy weekend all around.”
The mile was monstrous for the Busch brothers, with Kurt Busch, in the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet, having two pit road penalties and ultimately blowing his engine, and Kyle Busch having engine woes as well, which put him out of the race.
Kurt Busch, who had had an altercation with Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass after the Nationwide race again displayed his anger and frustration, asking his team at one point, “Anybody want to drive?”
Kyle Busch, driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, said that dropping a valve ended their day early in at the Monster Mile.
“It’s real unfortunate,” Busch said. “We had a good car, we were running up front there. We were biding our time trying to see if we couldn’t keep up with the race track.”
“I hate it that we give a post-race interview this way rather than finishing.”
‘Concrete Carl’ also had difficulties at the Monster Mile. Edwards, in his No. 99 Subway Ford, blew a tire and hit the wall hard on Lap 165.
“Our front right tire went flat,” Edwards said. “It is so frustrating to have that good of a car.”
“We will come back and get them in the fall.”
The race at the Monster Mile also sported several engine failures, including Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, David Reutimann and Jeff Burton. This was more engine failures at Dover than in the last three races combined.
“First of all we had a good car today,” Burton said of his No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet, which was running in the ninth position prior to the engine failure. “That’s the good thing.”
“We broke an engine here, but the monkey is on us right now and it will get off one day,” Burton continued. “I’ve never quit anything in my life and I’m not going to quit this.”
The Cup Series next moves from the Monster Mile to the recently repaved ‘Tricky Triangle’ at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 10th.
|Unofficial Race Results|
|FedEx 400, Dover International Speedway|
|4||17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||41|
|7||18||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||37|
|35||37||33||Stephen Leicht *||Chevrolet||9|