Jimmie Johnson claimed a dominant fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the year in the AAA 400 at Dover as he closed in on Mark Martin's Chase points lead.
The reigning champion led 271 out of the scheduled 400 laps, looking unbeatable for most of the day after starting the race from pole position. Only Kurt Busch looked capable of beating Johnson when he claimed the lead in the early going, staying up front for 99 laps.
However once Johnson overtook Busch on lap 177, there was nobody stopping him from taking his fourth win of the season and the 44th of his career. His maximum score puts him only 10 points away from Martin in the Chase for the Sprint Cup following the second race of the playoff.
Martin finished second and he probably had the speed in the long runs to contend with Johnson. However some poor restarts in the closing stages dropped him down the order and once he was back up to second place, the leader was already too far ahead.
Matt Kenseth had his best race for a while and despite starting 23rd he was able to charge through the field on pure pace and with a bit of help from his crew during pitstops. On his final pitstop he was able to move up to third place and ran as high as second before losing out to Martin on the final green flag run.
Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out a strong weekend with fourth place, looking consistent among the top five all day. Unlike Loudon, where he was strong on restarts, this time he was better on the long runs, but probably not as quick as Johnson.
His result allows him to move up one spot in the Chase, where he now sits third, 65 points behind Martin.
Kurt Busch rounded out the top five and moved up to fourth in the Chase, while Jeff Gordon took advantage of a fresh set of tires during the penultimate caution to move up to sixth at the flag, as most of the cars on the lead lap preferred to maintain track position.
Tony Stewart tried to make a similar gamble work for him on the final caution when he pitted from fifth to take on a new set of Goodyears. However from 12th on the final restart he was only able to move just inside the top-ten, which allowed him to gain one place in the Chase.
Denny Hamlin was the biggest loser in the standings, dropping a lap down almost halfway through the race. He was never able to get back on the lead lap and he now sits sixth in the Chase after arriving at Dover tied for second place.
The race was marked by an early multi-car wreck involving rookie Joey Logano. On lap 30 the 19-year-old got hit from behind by Tony Stewart after he tried to avoid getting into the back of Bobby Labonte who slowed down ahead of him.
The contact with Stewart sent Logano into a spin and when he hit the wall, Reed Sorenson's car somehow got underneath the rookie's Toyota. The Gibbs car flipped over seven times before coming to rest on the apron.
Logano was unhurt in the incident, as were the other drivers involved. Stewart's car was damaged but his team was able to repair a hole on his front bumper, which required an unscheduled stop under caution.
While Stewart recovered from that, his former team-mate Kyle Busch had a tough race after hitting the wall due to a faulty right-front tire. A few laps later he visited the barrier once again and the damage was enough to keep him in the garage for a long time.