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NASCAR At Dover: Jimmie Johnson Looks To Continue Dominance At The Monster Mile

To illustrate Jimmie Johnson's dominace at the Dover International Speedway, one need only look at this statistic: There have been 1,600 laps run at Dover over the past two Sprint Cup seasons. Johnson has led 985 of those. In other words, he has led 370 more laps than he hasn't led.

That is stout.

Adding in the fact that he is probably a speeding penalty in last season's May race away from winning all four of those events makes a clear case that Johnson has thoroughly owned Dover. His six victories on the Monster Mile are tied with Charlotte and Martinsville for his personal best, and his 1,622 laps led and three poles there are  current career records. All told, he has eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 18 starts.

The frightning thing: his numbers could be even better.

Johnson took to Dover immediately, sweeping both races in his rookie season of 2002 at a track that many veterans still struggle with. The following June, he was running in the top-five when he slid in oil from Ward Burton's blown engine and crashed off the second turn. He was involved in a 19-car accident a year later. Both wrecks ended days where his No. 48 Chevrolet was a clear contender.

He started 42nd after a qualifying spin - in which he masterfully dodged the inside fronstretch wall - and spun again during the race but still finished sixth in June 2006. The next year, he had a probable race win go flat - literally - in June and was involved in a multi-car accident late in the September race that ruined what would have likely been a sure top-five run.

Perhaps worst of all was the speeding penalty last year. Johnson's Chevrolet was at it's best on longer runs, which had allowed Kyle Busch to get ahead during a series of yellow flags. As they approached their final pit stop with just under 40 laps remaining, it seemed certain that the No. 48 would be at its peak - where it is the most unbeatable car in recent history - by the race's conclusion. However, Johnson was ticketed for speeding on pit road, clearing the way for Busch to score the win.

As critical as some fans are of Johnson's success and as much credit as they give to crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for his five-straight championships, the El Cajon, CA, native's performances at the tough Dover track - one some have said is as physically demanding a track as the series runs - clearly illustrate that he is a plenty-capable wheelman and deserving of his successes.

Jimmie Johnson's Dover stats:

18 starts

Six victories (Career-high)

Three poles (Career-high)

Eight top-fives

12 top-10s

1,622 laps led (Career-high)

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.