News & Media

Notes: Four tires ruin Johnson's run at Dover

May 15, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

Busch finishes strong after rear start; injured KHI crewman returns home

DOVER, Del. -- Jimmie Johnson thought the late four-tire call was the way to go -- until he saw how many cars had taken two tires ahead of him.

Johnson and Carl Edwards had dominated Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway, leading a combined 324 of 400 laps (Johnson 207, Edwards 117). But a late caution and a mix of pit strategies scrambled the field for a restart with 34 laps to go.

When Mark Martin stayed on the track under caution, and seven cars took two tires, Johnson restarted 11th and gained only two positions before the checkered flag. Matt Kenseth, who took right-side tires only on the final stop, won the race.

"I guess in our minds we didn't think that would take place -- so many guys taking two tires," Johnson said. "It was certainly the call. I knew basically, from the numbers, we were in trouble when we left pit road and there were so many guys in front of us.

"It's just the way it is. We had a great race car all day. Led a lot of laps but, unfortunately, not the one at the end that counted."

Busch salvages strong finish

After blowing an engine in practice, then pounding the outside wall in the final session, Kyle Busch had a mountain to climb in Sunday's race. Forced to start from the tail end of the field because of an engine change, Busch rode a late surge to a fourth-place finish.

Key to Busch's success was the positions he gained after taking four tires on his final pit stop on Lap 363. With other drivers on new rubber struggling to gain positions, Busch made a series of breathtaking passes to the outside and quickly drove from 12th on the restart to third. He dropped one spot, to Marcos Ambrose, before the finish.

"It was a rough weekend -- it started out rough," Busch said. "The guys just did an awesome job getting what I could get, anyways. We took four tires on that last stop, and we kind of worked our way up and passed most of those guys on the restart.

"Fortunately for me, I was in the right lane, and I could do that. I made the outside work."

That he did, and Busch held third in the Sprint Cup standings, 37 points behind Edwards, the leader after 11 races.

Injured KHI crewman returning home

Glen Wheeler, a Kevin Harvick Inc. mechanic injured by a flying rear spring during Saturday's last-lap wreck in the Nationwide Series race at Dover, returned home with the team Sunday, team owner Kevin Harvick said.

Wheeler was on pit road when Joey Logano spun under hard racing with race winner Carl Edwards. KHI driver Clint Bowyer was collected in the wreck and slammed the wall separating pit road from the racing surface.

Wheeler, whose left leg was injured by the debris from the wreck, was kept overnight in a local hospital with severe swelling in the leg.

"We'll take him home with us [Sunday], and we'll have him evaluated," Harvick said before the Sprint Cup Series race. "It's really sore."

Ganassi gets honorary degree

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi wasn't at Dover on Sunday -- and for good reason. Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Ganassi's home town, presented the winner of last year's Daytona 500 and Indy 500 with an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree during its commencement ceremonies.

The school noted Ganassi has been a fixture in auto racing for more than 25 years as one of the most successful and innovative owners in motorsports.


• Matt Kenseth scored his 20th Cup victory in his 411th race; he tied Speedy Thompson for 34th on NASCAR's win list.
• Matt Kenseth is the third driver with two victories in 2011 (also won Texas), joining Kevin Harvick (Fontana and Martinsville) and Kyle Busch (Bristol and Richmond).
• Matt Kenseth ended 76-race winless streak with his victory at Texas; he now has won two of past five races.
• Matt Kenseth posted his second victory at Dover (first in June 2006); he has finished fourth or better in six of past seven Dover races.
• Matt Kenseth ed two times for 33 laps, including the final 32 laps.
• Roush Fenway Racing scored its 123rd victory and third in 2011, most of any team: Matt Kenseth-2, Carl Edwards-1.
• Roush Fenway Racing scored its ninth win at Dover, second behind Hendrick Motorsports' 13.
• Jimmy Fennig scored his 32nd victory as a crew chief and fourth at Dover.
• Ford posted it 25th victory at Dover, ranking second among all manufacturers.
• Mark Martin finished second in his 50th race at Dover; he has finished 15th or better in 14 of past 15 Dover races, and has been running at the finish in his past 18 races there.
• Marcos Ambrose (third) tied his best finish on an oval.
• Kyle Busch (fourth) posted his seventh top-five in his 13th race at Dover.
• Brian Vickers (fifth) posted his first top-five since his victory at Michigan (August 2009)
• Clint Bowyer (sixth) posted his best Dover finish in 11 races.
• Carl Edwards (seventh) has finished on the lead lap in the past 12 Dover races, the longest current streak; he has been running at the finish in all 14 of his Dover races.
• Carl Edwards is the only driver to lead at least one lap in nine of the 11 races this season.
• Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth in his 200th career Cup start
• Jimmie Johnson (ninth) has finished ninth or better in six of the past seven Dover races; he has been running at the finish in the past 14 Dover races.
• Jimmie Johnson has led at least one lap in the past eight Dover races, the longest current streak.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th) has been running at the finish in the past 15 Dover races; it marked his ninth finish of 14th or better in 11 races this season
• Kurt Busch finished 14th in his 375th career Cup start.

* Ganassi nominated for Sports Business Awards