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Johnson's drive for fifth straight championship alive after Dover win

Sunday, September 26, 2010 | 5:15 p.m. CDT; updated 5:30 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 26, 2010

DOVER, Del. — Jimmie Johnson dominated again at Dover International Speedway, winning the second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on Sunday for his sixth victory of the season.

Johnson has owned Dover the last two years, winning for the third time in four races on the mile concrete track. He shook off a rare poor finish in last week's Chase opener at New Hampshire to take the pole, win the race and shoot up to second in the points standings.

"It's the weekend we dream of," Johnson said.

Jeff Burton was second and non-Chase driver Joey Logano was third. Chase drivers Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards were fourth and fifth.

Johnson's drive for a fifth straight championship is alive and well.

"They're good," Burton said. "Well, they're not good, they're great."

Danny Hamlin kept his points lead with a ninth-place finish. He holds a 35-point advantage over Johnson heading into next week's race at Kansas Speedway. The points leader after Dover has never gone on to win the championship since the Chase's inception in 2004.

"A lot of people are waiting for us to slip up like we have in the past but I don't see it this time around," Hamlin said. "I think it's going to all the way to the wire."

Hamlin is a strong favorite to thwart Johnson's drive for five. Hamlin's average finish at Dover was 22.8 in nine previous races — only Daytona at 23.1 is a more troublesome spot for the Joe Gibbs Racing contender — so Sunday was a positive sign for his points lead over the final eight races of the season.

"We're going to take it, it was a good day for us, but legitimately we had a second-place car," Hamlin said.

Hamlin had an active weekend. First, he blasted Clint Bowyer's explanation for an illegal car in his New Hampshire win. Then, he was bumped by Kevin Harvick, Bowyer's teammate, and the two got into a screaming match in the garage Saturday.

Hamlin considered the issue over.

Dover lacked the drama of last week's opener when Tony Stewart lost a big gamble and ran out of fuel right before the white flag lap, allowing Bowyer to zip past for the win. Bowyer's celebration was short lived after he flunked a follow-up inspection last week and was docked 150 points. His rough stretch continued with a 25th-place finish and — unless he can win Wednesday's appeal — his championship hopes are all but dashed.

Chase drivers were scattered throughout the results. Kyle Busch was sixth, Jeff Gordon was 11th, and Harvick 15th. Matt Kenseth battled a cut tire to finish 18th and Greg Biffle was 19th. Stewart was 21st.

Title hopes are grim for Stewart (10th place, 162 points out) and Kenseth (11th place, 165 points out).

Johnson finished 25th last Sunday at New Hampshire. It was the worst showing for any driver in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and dumped him from second to seventh in points.

This time, Johnson led a race-high 191 laps and was greeted by smiling owner Rick Hendrick in Victory Lane.

"Last week didn't turn out like we wanted," Johnson said. "I don't look all that excited right now but there's a huge weight off my shoulders that we were able to come and win a race in the Chase, rebound from last weekend and we're in the middle of this thing and we're really, really excited."

Edwards watch

Columbia's Carl Edwards raced to fifth place in Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. He rose one spot to sixth place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship standings.




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