Johnson Wins on Late Restart at the Monster Mile

Jimmie Johnson got the better of Kyle Larson on the final restart of the AAA Drive for Autism 400 to win for the 11th time in his career at Dover International Speedway.

Larson got a lousy restart on the outside lane, allowing Johnson to pull ahead. Ty Dillon got loose exiting Turn 2 and came down in front of Ryan Newman. His car turned back up the track and was t-boned by Erik Jones, triggering a multi-car pileup on the backstretch and ending the race under caution as Johnson had crossed the overtime line and the caution flew when he was rounding Turn 4.

The win ties him with Cale Yarborough for fifth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.

“I never thought I would end up here in NASCAR as a kid racing in the dirt out in Southern California,” Johnson said. “I was a big Cale Yarborough fan and I remember going to a race in Oklahoma with my parents and my brother. We were driving across the country and we pulled up to a Hardee’s. I had no idea it was a burger stand and I really thought when I walked in the door I was going to Cale Yarborough’s race shop (laughs). It was very disappointing. I had a burger and left and then understood the world of sponsorship.

“To be here and tie him at 83 wins is amazing. We just got the tribute helmet. I wasn’t sure how quickly we’d be, or if we’d be able to go there, and get it done. But, Cale, you’re the man. Thank you for all you have done for our sport.

“To be a part of one team and one sponsor, Lowe’s, Chevrolet, Valvoline, Gatorade, and with the support of the fans, this is an amazing day.”

Larson came home second after leading a race-high of 241 laps.

“Jimmie did a good job. A lot better job than I did,” Larson said. “I spun my tires. I just spun my tires pretty bad. I tried taking off not using a lot of throttle and still spun my tires pretty bad. I knew we were both probably going to spin pretty bad, but I wasn’t getting great launches all day. I was always having to fight people off into Turn 1 when I was the leader. But, you know, my team gave me a great Target Chevy again. I thought we were the best car today, me and the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) I thought we were really good. I definitely, obviously, didn’t need that last caution there. I was just cruising trying to log some laps, get to the end. I saw the lapper in front of me blow a right-front and wasn’t too worried. I thought maybe the outside lane would take off good. I just didn’t do a great job.”

Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the podium.

Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five.

Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-10.

Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag at 1:19 p.m. When he left pit road under the first caution, his left-rear wheel came off completely. This was caused by the air gun used to fasten the lug nuts into place being set to reverse. This handed the lead to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

On the ensuing restart, Martin Truex Jr. took the race lead and only lost it under the fourth caution when Larson opted not to pit.

Going down the backstretch on lap 79, Truex gave a tap to Larson to loosen him entering Turn 3, took the lead and won the first stage. Larson, as well as 11 others, opted not to pit under the stage break caution and assumed the race lead.

Aside a few laps under the seventh caution that were lead by Michael McDowell, Larson led most of the second stage. It was on the lap 211 when Truex passed under Larson in Turn 1 to take the lead and drove on to win the second stage.

Larson took back the lead from Truex prior to the restart of the final stage and controlled the race until a cycle of green flag stops occurred with 65 laps to go and caution flew, in the middle of green flag stops, with 62 to go when Regan Smith suffered a tire failure and slammed the wall in Turn 2.

The caution cycled Ty Dillon to the race lead, who held it for 23 laps. Meanwhile, Larson powered by Johnson’s outside to take second with 42 to go and drove by Dillon’s outside in Turn 4 with 39 to go to retake the lead.

In the closing laps, Larson was pulling away from Johnson and had the race in check. But with four to go, David Ragan suffered a right-front tire failure and slammed the wall in Turn 2, sending the race into overtime and setting up the run to the finish.

Ryan Sieg brought out the first caution for a solo spin in Turn 1 on lap 17. Stenhouse suffered a right-front tire failure and slammed the wall in Turn 2 on lap 47. He slammed the wall a second time in Turn 4 and brought out the third caution on lap 62. On the lap 65 restart, Kurt Busch got loose rounding Turn 1, overcorrected and turned up track into Brad Keselowski, taking both of them out. On lap 96, his left-rear tire came apart, his car spun out and slammed the wall in Turn 1. Danica Patrick spun out in Turn 4 on lap 144. Joey Logano suffered a right-front tire failure and slammed the wall in Turn 3. Paul Menard and Chris Buescher were collected in a two-car wreck on the backstretch with 58 to go.

The race lasted three hours, 52 minutes and six seconds at an average speed of 104.955 mph. There were 17 lead changes among nine different drivers and 15 cautions for 72 laps.

Truex leaves Dover with a nine-point lead over Larson.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2023, I'm on my eighth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Your Name" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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