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Johnson always a threat at Dover

6/5/2005

DOVER, Del. – Even rain couldn't slow the momentum of
Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson, who was awarded the pole
when qualifying was rained out Friday at Dover International
Speedway.

The front-row start for Johnson came just five days after he
became the only driver to win three straight Coca-Cola 600s. That
can't be good news for the others, who also move from Lowe's Motor
Speedway to The Monster Mile.

Johnson knows how to win at both places, having swept the events
two years ago on this high-banked concrete oval. He will line up in
the top spot for the first time this season, holding a 71-point
advantage over Greg Biffle at the start of Sunday's MBNA 400.

Biffle got the outside of the front row on the basis of
car-owner points.

The first-row alignment is a microcosm of the first 12 races
this season on NSACAR's elite circuit. Johnson has two of five
victories by Hendrick Motorsports and Biffle three of five by Roush
Racing.

Elliott Sadler will start third alongside Ryan Newman, who has
won three of the last four Dover races. The third row belongs to
Gordon, a four-time Dover winner tied with Biffle for the most
victories this season, and Tony Stewart, who won both races here in
2002.

Kevin Harvick will start seventh, flanked by Carl Edwards. Jamie
McMurray and series champion Kurt Busch round out the top 10.

The race is the halfway mark to the 26-race cut, when the top 10
drivers will compete for the title.

Daylong damper
The daylong downpour not only caused
cancelation of Nextel Cup qualifying. Also lost was qualifying for
Saturday's Busch Series race and the Craftsman Truck race.

The Busch washout gave the pole to points-leader Carl Edwards.
Fellow Nextel Cup driver Kevin Harvick was given the other
front-row spot. Busch series regular Clint Bowyer will go from the
second row, inside Greg Biffle.

Edwards doesn't know if the gift will mean much when they wave
the green flag on Saturday.

"The biggest thing to me is that the rubber will be washed off
the track," he said. "I think from when we tested here, until
when we practiced yesterday, the track changed a lot with rubber."

The Truck Series race was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday as
part of a doubleheader with the Busch event. David Starr won the
pole in qualifying Thursday.

Martin the Truckster
Mark Martin's final season on the Nextel Cup
probably won't be his last on the NASCAR circuit if Roush Racing
obtains a sponsor for him in the Craftsman Truck Series.

"I'm excited about 2006 racing a Jack Roush truck in the Truck
Series full time," Martin said Friday at Dover International
Speedway.

On Sunday, he'll try to become the only active driver to win
five races at Dover. He's the defending champion of the MBNA 400.

Martin ruled out a return to the Nextel Cup next season, saying
he would not be sharing a ride with the retiring Rusty Wallace or
any other driver. He prefers to picture himself in somewhat of a
development role for Roush, his car owner since 1988.

But Martin said title aspirations played no role in his decision
to race a truck. In 20 years on the Nextel Cup circuit, he has
finished second in points four times.

"From now on in my racing career, I'm going to do what I want
to do," said the 46-year-old driver from Batesville, Ark. "I look
forward to being in the seat for many years."

Martin likes the Truck schedule, which would give him an
additional 13 weeks off to spend with his family. But he plans to
approach the competition with the same desire that has made him one
of the great racers of his time.

"It looks like fun racing," Martin explained. "Every driver
that I talk to that races that series loves it."

Miscellaneous
David Pearson is the only driver to have two
pole-race sweeps in one season, turning the double in 1973. ... Ken
Schrader got the last of his four career victories 14 years ago in
the June race at Dover, and is winless in his last 455 starts. ...
Oldsmobile, which no longer campaigns cars on the NASCAR circuit,
got its last victory when Harry Gant won at Dover in the spring of
1992. That day, he also became the oldest driver to win a 500-mile
race, getting to Victory Lane at the age of 52 years, 142 days. ...
Hendrick Motorsports has the most Dover victories with nine. Four
came from Jeff Gordon, two from Jimmie Johnson, and one each from
Ricky Rudd, Schrader and Geoff Bodine. ... No race at Dover has
been rained out. The only blemish on the record came in the spring
event in 1975. The race started on a Sunday, when 140 laps were
run. The other 360 were completed the next day.