And it wasn't as if Johnson didn't have a winning car from the very start of the race. The 3-time Sprint Cup champion powered to the lead in the early stages of the race and managed to stay there for the majority of the 350 laps remaining.
However, while pitting for a new set of tires during the penultimate caution of the day, Johnson lost some valuable time with changing his left-front tire and rejoined the track only in 9th place. From that point on, only a new caution would have saved the day for the Californian, which eventually happened with 26 laps to go.
Johnson took full advantage at the regroup, making positions lap after lap. With only seven laps to go, the Hendrick Motorsports driver was trailing Stewart for the win, while having a much quicker car in the dying laps of the race. And that was because Stewart only changed his right-hand tires during his last pit stop, which obviously affected his grip on the Dover track.
While playing defensive in the laps, Stewart only made one mistake with 2 laps to go, leaving the outside open for Johnson. The latter realized that this was to be his last chance of winning the race and seized it immediately, passing Stewart for the lead and eventually building a comfortable margin in the one-lap-and-a-half remaining to win the race.
“We obviously had a great racecar all day long and I've got to thank (crew-chief) Chad (Knaus) for that. The strategy in the end was kind of goofy. We could've stayed out, changed two or four (tires). Fortunately I had such a good car and I could run around the top. I got up there into third and started to catch those guys down. My hat's off to Tony Stewart. That was one heck of a race. I had to drive so much over my head to get by him,” said Johnson after the race.
Although coming second at the chequered flag, Stewart is now leading the Sprint standings, taking advantage of a disastrous performance by Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon. While admitting he was not physically fit to driving on Sunday (after the race), Gordon finished on a disappointing 26th place overall, and now trails Stewart by 46 points.