At Dover, Johnson aims to join exclusive club

NASCAR Wire Service Thursday, May 28 1593
Just four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have amassed 10 or more wins at a single track. They are all NASCAR Hall of Famers.

Richard Petty (15 at Martinsville and North Wilkesboro, 13 at Richmond, 11 at Rockingham and 10 at Daytona), Darrell Waltrip (12 at Bristol, 11 at Martinsville and 10 at North Wilkesboro), Dale Earnhardt (10 at Talladega) and David Pearson (10 at Darlington) are all members of the exclusive club.

With a victory Sunday in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway (1 p.m. E.T. on FOX Sports 1), six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson would join them.

The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has been statistically dominant at the "Monster Mile," boasting a track-record nine wins, along with three Coors Light Poles, 14 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 26 starts. He also leads the series at Dover in driver rating (122.3), average running position (6.5), fastest laps run (1,106), average finish (8.2) and laps led (2,976).

"Dover isn't easy, but it just suits my driving style, and I love it," Johnson said.

If Johnson leads 24 or more laps on Sunday, he will surpass the 3,000 laps-led mark at Dover, becoming the seventh driver to lead 3,000 laps at a single track. Jeff Gordon is the only other active driver to accomplish the feat (he has led 3,744 laps at Martinsville).

"I'd have to say Dover is probably one of the most technical tracks we go to," Johnson said. "Setup is key. Communication between driver and crew chief is key."

Johnson won last year's Dover spring race, but Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, took the checkered flag in the fall event at the 1-mile oval. Gordon owns five wins at the "Monster Mile" and likely will be Johnson's toughest competition Sunday.

Gordon claims the new rules package will force drivers to navigate the track differently.

"We won the race in September here last year, but this is a different rules package with reduced horsepower," Gordon said. "We're going to be carrying more speed through the center of the corners this year, and the car will need to 'rotate' so you can get back in the gas quickly."