Where would you expect a race to have these type of scenarios: an uncertainty of who could win, a wreck involving nearly half the field, intense racing for the lead, and a possible winner who hasn’t seen victory in a while, if ever.
Daytona? Talladega? Both are automatic thoughts.
But what about Dover? Could this one-mile, concrete facility provide all that? Sure, it does have the name of the “Monster Mile” in its favor, but could a track that small provide that kind of action?
The answer…absolutely. That is exactly how Sunday went. When NASCAR heads to Dover, automatically the thought of who is favored to win is drawn to the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson. He doesn’t have 10 wins at this place just by luck. But who else often gets looked at for victory? Kevin Harvick won at this track last fall, and the Joe Gibbs organization has seen excellent runs at this place.
However, one incident took out practically everyone on that list. Johnson’s car suddenly wouldn’t go, and in the aftermath 17 cars came with him.
So, with Harvick, Johnson and JGR’s Kyle Busch involved, who does that leave?
There’s the local boy in Martin Truex Jr, who seemingly is owed a victory after bad luck this year. But alas, he was the one directly behind Johnson when the transmission let go, and another victory gone.
Now who to root for?
Well, in the end, there were three drivers who would put on a show for everyone in attendance. One is not uncommon, because Matt Kenseth was the one at the head of the pack, taking the lead with a few laps remaining. But in his mirror were two young men who were hungry for a victory. Actually, two young men who were looking for their first career victory. Even more, two drivers when their ages are combined…they are still younger than Kenseth.
It was Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, both of whom were driving as if they were on a dirt track instead of concrete. The cars were sideways, nearly out of control, but there was never any contact.
It was simply intense racing. It was Kenseth who somehow held off the faster car of Larson, getting his first win since late last summer, but the entire focus was on Larson and Elliott, who each are regarded as highly possible to get their first career win soon.
In the 12 races thus far, Dover was the one creating the most excitement, and the most intensity. Not even a photo finish at Daytona could match that. And to think, there’s still 14 races left in the regular season, plus the 10-race Chase. Talk about intense. It’s only going to get better as the year continues.
RESULTS: 1-Kenseth 2-Larson 3-Elliott 4-Kahne 5-Kurt Busch 6-Keselowski 7-Hamlin 8-Blaney 9-Truex Jr. 10-Bayne
NOTABLE FINISHES: 15-Harvick 22-Logano 25-Johnson 28-Edwards 30-Kyle Busch 32-Earnhardt Jr.
CAUTIONS: 12 for 65 laps. Lap 42-45 (Competition caution ); 120-124 (#83 Accident-BS); 144-151 (#7 Accident-T4); 174-178 (Debris-T1); 185-190 (#3 Accident in Turn 3 ); 214-219 (#55 Accident-T4); 227-230 (#1 and 46 Accident-FS); 290-293 (Debris-FS); 300-302 (Debris-FS); 344-354 (#34 Spin-T2); 356-359 (#1, 4, 6, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 27, 31, 42, 47, 48, 78, 88, 95 Accident-FS); 361-365 (#19 and 42 Accident-FS).
LEAD CHANGES: 19 among 10 drivers. K. Harvick 1-42; C. Edwards 43-46; K. Harvick 47-120; C. Edwards 121-130; M. Kenseth 131; C. Edwards 132-143; M. Truex Jr 144-173; K. Harvick 174; G. Biffle 175-180; K. Larson 181-214; J. Logano 215; D. Hamlin 216-230; B. Keselowski 231-279; K. Larson 280-289; J. Logano 290; K. Larson 291-331; M. Truex Jr 332-348; C. Edwards 349; J. Johnson 350-353; M. Kenseth 354-400.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 39 Mins, 29 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 109.348 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.187 Seconds
CHASE GRID: 1. Kyle Busch-397 (Points), 3 (Wins); 2. Edwards-381, 2; 3. Johnson-370, 2; 4. Keselowski-368, 2; 5. Harvick-418, 1; 6. Kenseth-318, 1; 7. Hamlin-308, 1; 8. Kurt Busch, -32 (From 1st-Harvick); 9. Elliott, -77; 10. Logano, -78; 11. Truex Jr, -82; 12. Dillon, -103; 13. Earnhardt Jr, -104; 14. McMurray, -122; 15. Blaney, -130; 16. Kahne, -132.