Johnson back in the Chase

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:05 PM ET

There are times in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing that making a mistake, or just having some bad luck can be overcome.

But if it happens like it to happened to A.J. Allmendinger on Sunday at Dover International Speedway with Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in his rear view mirror, there's no recovering.

For the first 187 laps of the AAA 400, Allmendinger was the class of the grid. His No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford was performing flawlessly.

Then disaster struck in the form of a tire going down.

Allmendinger ducked into pit lane giving up the lead to Johnson, who never looked back, claiming his 53rd Sprint Cup victory and - more importantly - the momentum for the 2010 Chase for the Championship.

While the result moved Johnson from sixth to second place in the Chase, it also struck fear into the other 11 drivers still in the hunt for the championship.

With four consecutive NASCAR titles on his resume, Johnson served notice at Dover that championship No. 5 moved from just a possibility this season to the realm of probability.

The only other challenge to Johnson's dominance came late in Sunday's race from the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, but that was brushed aside with the same ease that an elephant swats away a fly.

Name calling

You know that the finish line to the Sprint Cup season is in sight when the name calling starts in the paddock, and it got going in a big way at Dover with Denny Hamlin - driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota - throwing the ‘cheater' label around with abandon.

Hamlin said that NASCAR's penalty on the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for having an illegal chassis was not only fair, but was justified because he claimed everyone in the garage knew "for months" that Clint Bowyer's Chevrolet was not legal.

Then Bowyer claimed that both Hamlin's Toyota and Johnson's Chevrolet were caught by NASCAR officials for the same sort of infraction at New Hampshire but the problem was fixed before the start of the race.

The end result was a nasty, profanity-laced confrontation between Hamlin and RCR's Kevin Harvick on Saturday during practice. Calm down boys, there's still eight weeks of racing left.

Finish lines

There were many in the motorsports community who were surprised by the announcement late in the week that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing had signed Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz for the final IZOD IndyCar series race of the season at Homestead Miami Speedway instead of Canada's Paul Tracy. No surprise here, Beatriz brought money to the table ... For the second Formula One Grand Prix in a row, Lewis Hamilton posts a DNF. His kamikaze move at Singapore on Sunday, however, effectively puts him on the outside looking in for this season's world championship ... Watching Heikki Kovalainen put out the raging flames when his Lotus caught fire at Singapore was an embarrassment for a series that prides itself on its safety teams. ... And what was with J.R. Fitzpatrick's histrionics at the end of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Kawartha 250 on Saturday night when he attempted to fight veteran Kerry Micks? He and the ever-combative Micks were slugging it out for position on that final lap. Did Fitzpatrick really think the No. 02 Ford would just pull over a let him through? ... Even F-1 supreme cheerleader Bernie Ecclestone is expressing concern that the track for the Oct. 25th Korean Grand Prix will not be ready on time. "Until it's on there's always concerns, obviously," Ecclestone told the Associated Press.


Videos

Photos