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Jimmie Johnson snags historic NASCAR victory in Dover

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson found Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway yet again after taking advantage of a late race caution that bunched the field up and sent the race into overtime.

The win was the 83rd of Johnson’s career, tying him for sixth on the NASCAR all-time wins list with Cale Yarborough. It was also his 11th win at Dover, making him the winningest driver in NASCAR history at the track.

“This win means a lot to me,” Johnson said. “When I was growing up in southern California racing dirt bikes I was a big Cale Yarborough fan.  …  I was such a fan and it’s been an amazing journey along the way.

“It was a huge honor to tie him with three consecutive championships a few years back, and then to be here at 83 wins and a day where things played out in such an awkward and weird fashion, I’m just very happy that we’ve got it done. To my 83 wins, I’m just so proud that it’s come with one owner, one sponsor, one manufacturer, one crew chief, one team. This is a very special journey this whole Hendrick Lowe’s team has been on.”

Johnson led just two times for seven laps. To add to it, Johnson started the race at the rear of the field after his team was forced to change a rear gear before the race started.

Johnson quickly made his way through the field and was in the top 10 before the end of Stage 1. He spent most of the day running second and third to Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr., who both dominated the race. Larson led a race high 241 laps, while Truex Jr. led 102 laps and won both stages of the race.

Fifteen cautions filled the 400 mile event. The first major wreck of the day came early on when Kurt Busch lost control battling for the lead and slammed into Brad Keselowski. It marked the second week in a row that Keselowski was taken out of the race early by no control of his own.

Loose handling conditions made Sunday’s race challenging and led to many tire failures during the hot afternoon on the concrete surface. Those affected included Busch, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth and more.

David Ragan also had a tire failure. He cut a tire and slammed hard into the Turn 2 wall with two laps to go, setting up an overtime dash for the front runners.

Larson led the field to green with Johnson next to him and Truex Jr. behind him. Larson spun his tires, and Johnson took the lead entering Turn 1.

“Yeah, Jimmie did a good job,” Larson said. “A lot better job than I did. I spun my tires.  I just spun my tires pretty bad. I tried taking off not using a lot of throttle and still spun my tires pretty bad. I knew we were both probably going to spin pretty bad, but I wasn’t getting great launches all day.”

Going down the backstretch, Ty Dillon got loose and made contact with Ryan Newman. Dillon turned in front of the field and instantly created an eight car pileup on the backstretch.

Johnson already passed the overtime line, meaning the next flag ended the race. As they came around, Johnson took the checkered and yellow flag with Larson in second, Truex Jr. third, Newman fourth and Chase Elliott fifth.

Daniel Suarez notched his career best finish in sixth, while Jamie McMurray was seventh, Denny Hamlin eighth, Kevin Harvick ninth and Patrick tenth.

Next weekend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Axalta presents the Pocono 400. The race is scheduled to go green at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.

Zach Horrall is a NASCAR reporter for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by NASCAR and has full media access. Follow @ZHorrallBU and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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