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NASCAR Cup: Jimmie Johnson matches Cale Yarborough with Dover win

Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on June 4, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on June 4, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Martin Truex Jr. won both the 120-lap stages that made up the first 240-laps of the 400-lap AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday, and Kyle Larson dominated by leading 241 laps. But at the end of the day, Jimmie Johnson was the driver celebrating in victory lane after starting in the back because of an unapproved gear change.
Larson and Truex finished second and third. Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott, meanwhile, rounded out the top-five.
Johnson’s latest win was his third of the season, making him the winningest driver, so far, in 2017. It also was his record-extending 11th win at Dover and the 83rd Cup Series win of his career. The 83-wins tally tied Johnson with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list and pulled him to within one win of a three-way tie with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth.
“To be here and tie him at 83 wins is amazing,” Johnson said. “We just got the tribute helmet. I wasn’t sure how quickly we’d be, or if we’d be, able to go there and get it done. But, Cale, you’re the man. Thank you for all you have done for our sport.”
In honor of possibly tying Yarborough, Johnson donned a helmet at Dover that featured photos of Yarborough, his favorite driver growing up.
“I never thought I would end up here in NASCAR as a kid racing in the dirt out in Southern California,” Johnson said. “I was a big Cale Yarborough fan, and I remember going to a race in Oklahoma with my parents and my brother. We were driving across the country, and we pulled up to a Hardee’s. I had no idea it was a burger stand, and I really thought when I walked in the door I was going to Cale Yarborough’s race shop. It was very disappointing. I had a burger and left, and then understood the world of sponsorship.”
Johnson claimed his latest win with a last lap pass on Larson just before the yellow flag waved on the race, already in overtime, just past the overtime line for a large multi-car crash. ending the race. In all, the yellow flag waved 15 times.
Johnson took his first lead of the race when the yellow flag waved for the 12th time with 70 laps to go, interrupting a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Having not yet stopped, the caution came with Johnson as the race leader.
He lost the lead during the caution, though, when Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman beat him off pit road. Dillon maintained his lead until Larson and Johnson both got by him to take the first two positions with just under 40 laps remaining.
Larson and Truex combined to lead 343 laps of the race, with Truex the first to take the lead after a wheel came off the car of pole sitter Kyle Busch on lap 19. Both took two tries on lap 47, but Larson was the first among them off pit road to take the lead. Truex retook the lead on lap 81.
While Truex was the leader at the end of each of the first two stages, Larson was up front to start both stage two and stage three, due, at least in part, by pit strategy. He stayed out after the first stage to take the lead. At the end of the second stage, he took only two tires to get out of the pits first for the start of the final stage.
“I fought hard all race long,” Larson said. “I felt like we were on defense the whole race. Even though I led a lot of laps, I felt like we were on defense. We’d be on two tires when everybody else was on four Two left-side tires, I was able to lead a lot of laps.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on June 4, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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