Monday, June 4, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Dover

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Hendrick Motorsports has been on a winning high lately after winning Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600. All four Hendrick drivers are on a winning high; could they make it three in a row and win again?

Kasey Kahne, No. 5

After winning last weekend's Coca-Cola 600, Kasey Kahne had a lot of momentum riding into Dover this weekend.

Starting his day in 13th, Kahne quickly moved up in the field and by Lap 116 Kahne was in the top 10. Kahne would spend the rest of his afternoon inside the top 10, closing out the day ninth. Kahne keeps on improving his positions in the point standings as well, now ranking 14th, up one from last week.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24

All Jeff Gordon wants is a little luck to get him out of his recent slump. All he wanted (and needed) was some magic at Dover.

And Gordon had the car to beat. His No. 24 was a rocket all day, even cracking the top five by Lap 58. On Lap 142 Gordon stole the lead from teammate Jimmie Johnson; once Gordon had that clean air he was gone. Gordon looked to have this race in the bag, but the luck wasn't in his favor as Miles the Monster had it out for the No. 24.

A loose wheel forced Gordon to pit and lose the lead, going two laps down. Gordon would try hard to gain back his positions, even staying out longer during green flag stops to lead more laps. Gordon would bounce back some and finish 13th, now ranking 21st in the points. It now appears winning races may be Gordon’s only hope to make the Chase.

"The fastest car doesn't always win the race," Gordon said on his disappointing finish. "And we’re sitting here in 13th or whatever; it’s silly."

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48

Jimmie Johnson had a fun goofy day wearing a rainbow wig to promote his "Madagascar 3" themed paint scheme.

Starting on the outside pole position, Johnson quickly took the lead from Mark Martin when the green flag dropped. Johnson would keep his lead until Lap 142 when teammate Jeff Gordon passed him. Battling with teammate Jeff Gordon, who appeared to have the car to beat, Johnson was able to capitalize on Gordon's misfortune to regain the lead. Johnson wound up cruising into victory lane and once again wearing that rainbow wig. Johnson's win made it three in a row for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson looks to be well on his way to a sixth championship now, ranking fifth in the points with two wins.

"It was a team effort,” Johnson said on winning Sunday’s race. "Obviously, I had an amazing Lowe’s Chevrolet to drive today. I thought that No. 24 was the car to beat. He had two tenths on us but he had some troubles. I think the way we protected the win was pit road. Last week was hard on us but this week these guys stepped up and did it every time I was on pit road. Awesome day for this Madagascar 3/Lowe’s Chevrolet."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88

The winless streak keeps growing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., but with that so does his internal fire to win.

Earnhardt Jr. had a good No. 88 car early in the race and by Lap 116 he cracked the top ten. Flawless pit stops by the crew helped the No. 88 gain positions on the track. Earnhardt Jr. stayed inside the top 5 the reminder of the day. He even came close to battling teammate Jimmie Johnson for the lead but just couldn't get his car to stick.

Finishing the day fourth just makes Earnhardt Jr.'s hunger and want for a win grow. The finish was his first top 5 at Dover since fall 2007.

Earnhardt Jr. also moved up a spot to third in the point standings.


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