NASCAR Sprint Cup 2015 recap: Six Takeaways from FedEx 400 in Dover

This Jimmie Johnson guy might be special. That also might be the understatement of the year.

Johnson flexed his muscle again on Sunday afternoon in Dover, clinching his record 10th victory at the Monster Mile. In the process, he also gave himself a two-win advantage over Kevin Harvick on the Chase Grid.

But Six-Time wasn’t the only story on Sunday with clean air assisting again and the foundation literally crumbling at Dover. Before heading to the Tricky Triangle, let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from Delaware.

 

1. Records Falling … More to Come

Earlier this week, I pondered the question, “Is there anything Johnson hasn’t done?” Already a six-time champion, he has been at the pinnacle of the sport multiple times. Now a 10-time winner at Dover, he’s in a class of just Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt to have done both over there careers.

At this point, he’s hunting down legends in nearly every category. With two more wins—he’s currently at 74—Johnson would match the Intimidator at eighth all time.

“I’m almost in shock that we’re there,” Johnson said. “I mean, 74 race wins? Ten here? You can’t dream that big.”

The need to win during the regular season is out the window for the No. 48 team as they’ve nearly locked up at least second on the Chase Grid. But with so much importance placed on collecting checkered flags during the Chase, Johnson is on his way to tying Earnhardt in two categories later this year.

2. Clean Air Cruise Control

It’s a monotonous argument at this point, but clean air is simply hurting the product on the track. The cars are faster when they get out front and, especially in the case of late restarts, there’s typically no way to catch up. That exact situation unfolded again on Sunday when Johnson separated by several seconds on three separate restarts.

Suffice to say, competition is quickly being tossed aside in favor of aero push and downforce that is ruining the chances for any driver in traffic. In a sport that used to be all about the driver, it’s quickly leaning more heavily toward engineering and pit road. There’s no I in team, but there is in boring. Something has to change—soon.

3. Dover Crumbling

For the second straight spring race, a piece of the concrete broke apart from the Dover surface. Last spring, it was Jamie McMurray that had to deal with sustaining damage to his car when a piece of the track cracked. This time around, Tony Stewart ran into a pothole on pit road before it was patched.

Dover has made upgrades to nearly every facet of the track with new SAFER barriers, an updated catchfence and even adding medical facilities for fans. Now it’s time to consider repaving NASCAR’s oldest surface after two decades with the same asphalt.

4. Three Up

Jimmie Johnson – This seems like an obvious choice, but NASCAR fans have to remember how Johnson performed over the last two weeks. His showing in Dover reminds us all that he’s still a championship contender despite his shortcomings in Charlotte.

Kyle Larson – Heeeeee’s baaaaaack. Or at least it seems that way after Dover. Kyle Larson is finally back to his 2014 form with a third-place finish after starting from the same spot on Sunday. Now heading to Pocono—the track where he claimed his first pole last August—Larson has a chance to build on that momentum.

Aric Almirola – Wait, Aric Almirola finished where? After going a lap down on two separate occasions, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver used his Lucky Dogs to pull off his first top-five finish of the season. He also jumped to 14th on the Chase Grid thanks to the memorable afternoon at the Monster Mile.

5. Three Down

Carl Edwards – What have you done for me lately, Cousin Carl? Coming off a miraculous win in the Coca-Cola 600, Carl Edwards resumed his mostly underwhelming season with a 19th-place finish at Dover. Three laps off the pace and never truly competing for a win at a track he’s tamed in the past, his run at Charlotte is looking like a fluke.

Austin Dillon – This is not a Richard Childress Racing problem. Each week, both Ryan Newman and Paul Menard are competing for top-10 finishes. Meanwhile, Austin Dillon has just one such finish for his efforts. The No. 3 car isn’t challenging for wins or even top 20s on a regular basis, making this another difficult year for Dillon thus far.

Greg Biffle – Just when it seemed like things were going oh so right for Roush Fenway Racing, Greg Biffle falls short of continuing his good fortune from Charlotte. This could easily be any other RFR driver, but the Biff was the only driver who didn’t have issues on the team. He still finished 17th and two laps down—behind Tony Stewart.

6. Three Tweets

 

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