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NASCAR AAA 400 Preview: The Chase Moves On To Dover

 

Jimmie Johnson wins the FedEx 400 at Dover in June - image: Hendrick Motorsports

Jimmie Johnson wins the FedEx 400 at Dover in June - image: Hendrick Motorsports

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Last week in New Hampshire, it was Denny Hamlin’s turn to bring home a victory for Joe Gibbs racing. Now that this year’s Chase for the Championship is heading into its third race, Jimmie Johnson is hoping to stretch his lead in series points, while Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart are all hoping to pass Johnson for the lead.

No one needs a good result in Dover more than Jeff Gordon, who finds himself in the basement of the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, running out of time to claw his way back up the ladder. His pole position in New Hampshire likely helped his confidence, but  it was backed up by a disappointing third place finish in the race.

While Gordon has won the AAA 400 twice, his last victory on Dover International Speedway’s one mile oval came in 2001, at the FedEx 400. In more recent years, the Monster Mile has been very kind to Jimmie Johnson: he’s won the AAA 400 four times, and the FedEx 400 three more.

If we had to pick a favorite for Sunday’s race, the nod would almost certainly go to Johnson. While his lead in the championship may not be dominant (Keselowski trails in the championship by a single point, while third place Hamlin is just seven points down), no other Sprint Cup driver in recent years has been able to figure out the Monster Mile like Johnson.

The AAA 400 airs on ESPN at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. There’s a 40-percent chance of rain, which means conditions are likely to be cloudy and cool if the start of the race isn’t pushed back by showers.

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