Jimmie Johnson dominated again in winning a crucial Chase race.
It’s become about as routine this time of year on the sports calendar as the start of the NFL season or the baseball playoff stretch drive. If he keeps driving like this, NASCAR can expect another regular fixture in November: Johnson hoisting the series trophy and celebrating a championship.
Johnson thumped the competition in the second Chase for the championship race, sweeping the season races at Dover (Del.) International Speedway to accelerate his bid for an unprecedented fourth straight Sprint Cup title.
“I’m pretty sure that dude is Superman,” runner-up Mark Martin said.
He was pretty super on the concrete in the No. 48 Chevrolet. If three championships weren’t enough to intimidate the rest of the Chase field, the way he won on Sunday should send another message: He’s just really getting going on a fourth.
“As far as sending a message, I hope it does,” Johnson said. “I hope people are worried.”
Johnson cut Martin’s points lead with the victory — his fourth of the year and 44th overall — in the second of 10 races in the Chase for the championship.
“I’ve seen that dude up close and I see why he’s so successful,” said Martin, Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate. “He works harder at it than anybody else, I think, on the circuit.”
No winner of the second Dover race has ever gone on to win the Cup championship. If any driver can reverse that trend, it’s Johnson. Much as he did in May, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet was out in front for the majority of the 400-mile race.
“I certainly hope that our performance today scares some people and affects them in a way that benefits us,” Johnson said.
Chase drivers took nine of the first 11 spots. Martin followed last week’s win at New Hampshire with a second-place finish. Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.
Matt Kenseth was the highest non-Chase driver at third.
Martin holds a 10-point lead over Johnson heading into next week at Kansas Speedway.
“This team is really on a roll right now,” Martin said.
Other Chase driver results saw Jeff Gordon finish sixth, Kasey Kahne was eighth, Tony Stewart ninth and Ryan Newman 10th. Carl Edwards was 11th, Greg Biffle 13th, Brian Vickers 18th and Denny Hamlin 22nd.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix and Brawn GP’s Jenson Button extended his Formula One championship lead by one point.
Hamilton started from the pole and protected his lead to finish 9.6 seconds ahead of Timo Glock.
Fernando Alonso gave scandal-hit Renault a lift by finishing third for the French team’s first podium finish of the season.
Button leads Rubens Barrichello by 15 points in the standings with three races to go.
Robert Hight raced to his second Funny Car victory in two playoff events, winning the NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.
Hight beat Jack Beckman in the final round at the Texas Motorplex, after outrunning Leif Helander, Tim Wilkerson and Ashley Force Hood.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
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