Source of concern

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 29, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DOVER, Del. — Jimmie Johnson says you can throw out a driver’s long-term record at a race track when assessing prospects for an upcoming race.

Johnson’s short-term record at Dover International Speedway, however, should be sufficient to scare most of his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rivals.

“I think we all look at other drivers and where they excel,” Johnson said Friday at Dover, site of Sunday’s AAA 400. “You know that you’re going to have to deal with that team and driver, and last week was a good example of it.

“We all knew going in, based on the spring race, that Denny (Hamlin) was going to be the car to beat at New Hampshire, and they did that (won the race). So, we all look through stats, and I’m not sure that a long history plays into things, but certainly a spring race is one that you pay attention to.”

So you can forget that Johnson has won four of the last seven events at Dover. Just remember that he won the June 3 event this year in dominating fashion, leading 289 of 400 laps and beating Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 2.550 seconds.

Johnson comes to Dover with a one-point lead over Brad Keselowski and is likely to expand that advantage. The five-time champion appears unconcerned that the Chase leader after the fall Dover races has never gone on to win the Cup title.

“I think the point in that it that it’s a long season, and a lot can happen,” Johnson said. “But you want every point you can get and leading now is a great position to be in. I think any champion of the Chase would take leading out of Dover.”


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