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Johnson Learns From Mistakes

June 03, 2002|From Associated Press

Rookie Jimmie Johnson redeemed himself for errors that probably cost him a victory a week earlier, winning the MBNA Platinum 400 on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

Despite dominating the middle part of the race, Johnson was 10th after most of the contenders stopped for gas for the last time with 92 of 400 laps remaining. But Johnson passed four-time Dover winner Ricky Rudd to take the lead on lap 363.

Then, Johnson stayed on the track when a final caution waved for Ken Schrader's blown rear end with 28 laps left.

The others pitted for tires in hopes of catching Johnson, but he drove away in his Chevrolet on the restart and beat the Dodge of four-time Dover winner Bill Elliott by a half-second.

"I didn't realize Elliott was coming that hard, and I had to step it back up to stay up there," Johnson said. "These guys gave me a great race car."

It was the second victory of the season for Johnson, whose car is owned by Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports.

Johnson also had the strongest car last week in the Coca-Cola 600, but lost after making mistakes--including overshooting his pit stall--late in the race.

Johnson also moved ahead of Gordon and Mark Martin in the series standings, and now sits second behind leader Sterling Marlin. Marlin finished 13th Sunday and leads Johnson by 136 points after 13 of 36 races.


Paul Tracy, who lost a disputed finish in the Indianapolis 500 a week earlier, dominated the Miller Lite 250, leading 184 of the 250 laps at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis.

The victory was the 19th of Tracy's CART career and the first since September 2000 in Vancouver, Canada--a span of 28 races. The Canadian took the lead for good on lap 180 on the 1.032-mile oval when defending race winner Kenny Brack made his final pit stop.

Tracy finished 0.638 seconds ahead of Adrian Fernandez. Max Papis was third, followed by Christian Fittipaldi and Michel Jourdain. Jourdain took a 42-35 lead over Dario Franchitti in the season standings.

Tracy's team owner, Barry Green, is considering filing an appeal of his driver's second-place finish to Helio Castroneves today in Indianapolis. Tracy's team is arguing that he passed Castroneves a split second before a caution light blinked on and froze positions on the next-to-last lap at Indy.


Larry Dixon raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the year, winning the NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway at Joliet, Ill.

Dixon defeated Kenny Bernstein in the final with a quarter-mile run of 4.580 seconds at 319.37 mph. Bernstein finished in 4.620 at 317.72. In other division, Del Worsham topped the Funny Car competition and Bruce Allen took the Pro Stock title.


Drag racer Jerry Gannon died Sunday, a day after crashing at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga. He was 50.

Gannon, of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, was driving a jet-powered Funny Car on Saturday when his car hit a wall, then spun around and hit another wall before flipping and bursting into flames.

Track officials told Atlanta TV station WAGA that their fire truck hose snapped off and got caught on an ambulance tire as they responded.

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