DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson went from running away from the field to running down Tony Stewart.
Johnson nipped at Stewart’s bumper, went nose-to-nose, then soared past him on an outside pass on the concrete track.
One Cup champion outdueling another in the battle for the checkered flag.
Johnson thrashed the field, then rebounded from a late pit stop that dropped him back into traffic to catch Stewart with two laps left in a thrilling finish in the Sprint Cup series race Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
“We just couldn’t hold off Jimmie,” Stewart said. “He was like a freight train coming.”
Johnson had one of the more dominant performances of his career, taking control early on the concrete to lead a career-high 298 laps. That seemed to be enough for the three-time defending Cup champion to cruise into Victory Lane until a botched pit stop with 36 laps left knocked Johnson from the lead.
One by one, Johnson methodically picked off the drivers in front of him. He charged past Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch until only Greg Biffle and Stewart were ahead of the No. 48 Chevrolet with 10 laps left. Johnson passed Biffle and that set up the frantic finish that rivaled Talladega for the most dramatic end so far this season.
Johnson won for the second time this season and the fourth time in a Cup race at Dover. He has 42 career Cup victories.
Stewart was second, followed by Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th in his first race with crew chief Lance McGrew.