DOVER, Del. -- Keys to Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway:
WINNER: Jimmie Johnson passed leader Kyle Larson on a restart with two laps to go to tie Cale Yarborough on the all-time wins list with 83.
It took several seconds for NASCAR to wave the checkered flag, as Ty Dillon started a huge wreck behind the leaders on the final lap. It was determined Johnson made it to the restart line in time to make the result official.
Johnson, now an 11-time Dover winner, was sent to the rear of the field because his Hendrick Motorsports team changed a rear gear Sunday morning. Johnson was third by Lap 90.
“I never thought I would end up here in NASCAR as a kid racing in the dirt out in California," Johnson said via TV from victory lane. "I was a big Cale Yarborough fan. To be here and to tie him at 83 wins is astounding. We just got the (special Yarborough) helmet; I wasn’t sure we’d get it in time. Cale, you are the man! This is an amazing day.”
Said Larson: "(Jimmie) did what he had to do to get the best launch he needed to. He just took off better than me. He's the seven-time champion for a reason. He's got a golden horseshoe or something. And he's just better at executing. … I felt like we were on defense all day. I needed it to stay green there at the end. We were a lot better than Jimmie then. But he did what he had to do.”
Johnson has three wins in 13 races so far. The regular season reached halfway Sunday, with eight drivers already in the playoffs. Eight spots remain.
CONTENDERS OUT: Kurt Busch wrecked with Brad Keselowski on Lap 66 as he contested second place on a restart. Busch’s No. 41 Ford wiggled entering a turn and veered sharply up into Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford. Busch’s Stewart-Haas Racing crew repaired his car during multiple pit stops, but Keselowski’s car was not repairable in the five minutes allowed. He finished 38th. Busch wrecked hard when a left rear tire blew on Lap 96 and finished 37th.
“It’s my bad as a driver. My bad,” Busch said. “We had good speed in our [car] and just couldn’t finish. You can’t make mistakes out here and we did.”
MAJOR MISTAKE: Pole-sitter and race-leader Kyle Busch had a loose left rear wheel come off his No. 18 Toyota after the first round of pit stops, forcing him to pit multiple times to affix a new wheel and repair damage to the bottom of the car. Busch’s jack man appeared to lower the car before the wheel could have lug nuts tightened. He restarted 37th. By NASCAR rule, Busch crew chief Adam Stevens, tire changer Jake Seminara and carrier Kenny Barber are subject to a “mandatory minimum” four-race suspension.
Chase Briscoe had an almost identical situation Friday in the Camping World Truck Series race at Dover.
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STAGE ONE: Martin Truex Jr. won his series-best seventh stage, ahead of Kyle Larson, whom he tapped out of the way on Lap 80. Truex led 69 of 120 in the stage. Kevin Harvick was third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez. Truex earned a playoff point and 10 race points. The figure decreased by increments of one through the top 10.
STAGE TWO: Truex won stage two also, followed by Johnson, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Larson, Harvick, Chase Elliott, Blaney, Jones and Kahne.
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