Dover, DE (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmie Johnson benefited from a late-race pit strategy to win Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, has now won at this one- mile, concrete-surfaced track 10 times, including victories in three of the last four races here.
Starting 14th, Johnson was not much of a factor until the last 50 laps. During a caution with less than 30 laps left, Harvick and Johnson opted not to pit and remained 1-2, respectively, in the running order. All others on the lead lap pitted.
Johnson pulled ahead of Harvick for the lead following a restart with 23 laps to go and then held off Harvick in two more restarts, including one for a green-white-checkered finish. Johnson beat Harvick to the finish line by 0.4 seconds for his fourth win of the season and the 74th of his Sprint Cup career. He led only the final 23 laps.
"What a long hard fought day to get to the front," Johnson said. "It seemed like four or five of us could run the same speed but just couldn't really pass. We did a great job of hanging in there. My pit stops were awesome. We kind of took a chance on pit sequence to pick off a couple of spots to get us from fifth to third and then have a shot for the win. Then that last set of tires, I was running Harvick down and I ended up staying on him, and his car didn't look as strong as it was early in the day. I was able to take advantage of it."
Johnson became the fifth driver in series history with 10 or more victories at a single track. He joined NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty (Martinsville-15, North Wilkesboro-15, Richmond-13, Rockingham-11, Daytona-10), Darrell Waltrip (Bristol-12, Martinsville-11, North Wilkesboro-10), Dale Earnhardt (Talladega-10) and David Pearson (Darlington-10). Johnson is just two wins away from tying Earnhardt for seventh on the series' all-time race winners list.
Harvick, who was trying to win at Dover for the first time, had led a total of 91 laps. He finished in the runner-up spot here for the second time.
"We just struggled at the end of the race on restarts, really all day on the restarts," Harvick said.
Kyle Larson finished third, followed by Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr, who ran in front for a race-high 131 laps.
It was the third straight race where Truex led the most laps but came up short of a victory. Following the last restart, Truex and Kahne bumped into each other, causing Truex to lose track position.
"(Truex) was behind me and tried to get a run on me, and my spotter said I was clear, so I just went to the bottom getting into (turn) 1," Kahne said of the incident. "I think he was a little upset. He gave me a bump after the race. I didn't really know what else to do other than to go there with guys on my outside."
Truex's first career victory in the series occurred at Dover in the spring of 2007. His most recent win happened in June 2013 at the Sonoma, California road course (69 races ago).
"(Kahne) ran me down on the apron, so I either had to let off or wreck all of us," Truex said.
Jamie McMurray finished seventh, while Paul Menard Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon completed the top-10. Gordon won the most recent race at Dover last September.