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Kenseth Wins Dover For First Victory Of Year

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 15 2016
Matt Kenseth became the fourth Joe Gibbs Racing driver to win a race and enter the Chase on Sunday when he won at Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Matt Kenseth became the fourth Joe Gibbs Racing driver to win a race and enter the Chase on Sunday when he won at Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Matt Kenseth held off kid drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott to win Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at the Dover International Speedway Monster Mile.

The win was the first of the season for Kenseth and made him the fourth and final Joe Gibbs sprint-logo-08Racing driver to win a race and earn entry to the 2016 Chase playoff.

“Feels good to be (in Victory Lane) for sure,” Kenseth, who has had plenty of bad luck this year, said.

“We had a good car today. I thought we were competitive and there were a few guys at different parts of the race that were a little bit better and Kyle (Larson) gave me all I wanted at the end, and then some. We were fortunate to be able to hold him off.”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Larson, who led 85 laps, finished second for the fourth time in his young career.

Elliott, in his first full season in Sprint Cup, finished third in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Over the final 35 laps, the 23-year-old Larson and 20-year-old Elliott fought each other for the chance to catch, and hopefully pass, leader Kenseth but the 44-year-old Wisconsin native and 2003 Cup champion was able to edge Larson for the win.

“t was fun battling Chase there,” Larson said. “I didn’t see him much throughout the race.  I knew he was lining up behind me there the last restart. Kurt got coming towards me.  I thought he might have got into the wall or something.  Chase got by, was getting big in my mirror quick.

“It was fun racing with him, though.  We’ve had a lot of good battles through the XFINITY Series

Matt Kenseth gets a high five from his wife in Victory Lane at Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

Matt Kenseth gets a high five from his wife in Victory Lane at Dover. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

and even K&N.  Hopefully we’re battling up front for many years to come.  I’m just looking forward to the future.”

Kasey Kahne finished fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.

Kevin Harvick started from the pole and led until he was passed by Carl Edwards during yellow flag stops on Lap 42. After the race went green on Lap 45, Havick quickly too the lead back.

Harvick held the lead until pitting under caution at about lap 120. Once again, Edwards led the field out of hte pits while Havrick came out third.

Martin Truex Jr. became the third leader when he stayed out as the leaders pitted under caution on Lap 144. Truex led until he pitted under caution on Lap 173. Taking over the lead was Greg Biffle, who did not pit.

On lap 181, Larson passed Biffle for the lead and held it until pitting under caution on Lap 214. Taking the green flag P1 on the restart was Denny Hamlin, who didn’t pit.

Twelve laps later, the yellow flag waved for the seventh time. Just after the restart on Lap 230, Brad Keslowski blew past Hamlin to take the lead. For the next 49 laps, Keselowski was able to keep a small lead over Larson but on Lap 280 of the 400-lapper, Larson made the pass and was leading again.

With 69 laps to go and after dozens of laps of trying, Truex finally made it past Larson to get the lead back.

Ten laps later, Tony Stewart’s car broke a track bar which tore a hole in the rear-end gearbox to bring out a caution and nearly wreck Truex, who drove through Stewart’s oil and got sideways.

Jimmie Johnson came out of the pits first after taking just two tires. Second was Kenseth, who also took just two. Edwards restarted third and Truex fourth and in the preferred outside lane. Both Edwards and Truex took four tires.

On the restart, which came with 46 to go, Johnson suffered a drive line failure, couldn’t accelerate and was rammed from behind by Truex. Truex, in turn was rammed by Harvick. Behind them a large group of other cars – including contenders Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. –wrecked and out came the red flag.

“As soon as I went from second (gear) and tried to go to third,” Johnson said, “I kind of got up into the neutral gate of the transmission and it didn’t even get to third. It stopped before it got to third. Then I tried fourth and third and fourth and eventually got hit from behind. It wouldn’t go in gear.

“In my career, I’ve never had a transmission do that too me.”

Earnhardt, when asked what happened in the 18-car wreck, said, “They started wrecking way up in front of us.  “I couldn’t really tell what was going on.  I got to the outside and thought we had it missed, but the No. 13 (Casey Mears) came up the track, he got collected in it.”

Logano, asked the same thing, said, “That was the problem, we couldn’t see. When you are stacked up on the restart like that there isn’t much to be able to see at all. Unfortunately it looked like the 48 had trouble getting going and it stacked us up. I tried checking up and going to the bottom like we were going to miss it and got hit from behind and that sent me into it more. Now we need a new radiator. We have been the victim of circumstances the last few weeks. It is what it is. I am not going to say it was bad luck. We put ourselves in position to be back there on our pit stop. It is our fault. We have to smarten up and get a little better at every little area. We had a decent car. We weren’t the fastest car but we were a top-five car for sure. Things happen.”

Truex, having fast cars and zero luck, came back to finish 9th in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

“I don’t know what we have to do,”  Truex said. “We keep putting ourselves in position to win and something way out of the ordinary steps up and bites us. As much as I am disappointed with what happened to us, I am very proud of our pit crew. They did a great job all day and executed the repairs with perfection that gave us an opportunity to finish ninth. It sure didn’t look like we had a shot at a top-10 with the kind of damage we had to the car.”

Assuming the lead was Kenseth. Restarting next to him with 41 laps to go was Edwards. On the backstretch, Edwards was hit from behind by Larson. Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing car spun and then went head-on into the inside wall.

“What an idiot,” Edwards saids said on his radio of Larson.

Kenseth had the lead when the race restarted with 35 to go. Larson spent the next 10 laps trying to get past Kenseth. But then, Elliott got into a battle with Larson for second place and Kenseth was able to put space between him and the two young drivers.

With 15 to go, Larson broke free of Elliott and took aim at Kenseth, who was a half second ahead. With five to go, Larson made it to the rear bumper of Kenseth when the lapped and battered car of Logano didn’t move out of the way.

But Larson, while able to pull even several times, could not make the pass. On the final lap, Kenseth held off Larson and got the win and the Chase berth.

“It always feels good to win, Kenseth said. “Dover has always been my favorite track. I made my first Cup start here many moons ago. We only got a couple of these things. It feels good to get one and I feel like this is usually one of my better places and it’s been a little bit of a struggle lately. It feels good to be here, for sure.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Dover International Speedway

Dover, Delaware

Sunday, May 15, 2016

  1. (10) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400.
  2. (23) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
  3. (13) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 400.
  4. (11) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400.
  5. (9) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400.
  6. (14) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
  7. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
  8. (18) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 400.
  9. (7) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 400.
  10. (25) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 400.
  11. (19) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 400.
  12. (32) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 400.
  13. (31) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 400.
  14. (5) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 400.
  15. (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 399.
  16. (8) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 398.
  17. (27) David Ragan, Toyota, 397.
  18. (30) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 396.
  19. (35) Landon Cassill, Ford, 396.
  20. (28) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 396.
  21. (24) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 395.
  22. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 391.
  23. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 391.
  24. (17) Brian Scott #, Ford, 390.
  25. (21) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 387.
  26. (26) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 374.
  27. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, Vibration, 364.
  28. (4) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Accident, 359.
  29. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, Accident, 355.
  30. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 354.
  31. (15) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 354.
  32. (2) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, Accident, 354.
  33. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 345.
  34. (34) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Suspension, 342.
  35. (39) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 334.
  36. (40) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 331.
  37. (37) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 223.
  38. (38) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Accident, 204.
  39. (33) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 139.
  40. (29) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 116.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  109.348 mph.

Time of Race:  03 Hrs, 39 Mins, 29 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.187 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 65 laps.

Lead Changes:  19 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   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.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 3 times for 117 laps; K. Larson 3 times for 85 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 49 laps; M. Kenseth 2 times for 48 laps; M. Truex Jr 2 times for 47 laps; C. Edwards 4 times for 27 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 15 laps; G. Biffle 1 time for 6 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 2 laps.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 418; Kyle Busch – 397; Kurt Busch – 386; C. Edwards – 381; J. Johnson – 370; B. Keselowski – 368; C. Elliott # – 341; J. Logano – 340; M. Truex Jr – 336; A. Dillon – 315; D. Earnhardt Jr – 314; M. Kenseth – 313; D. Hamlin – 308; J. Mcmurray – 296; *. Blaney # – 288; K. Kahne – 286.

 

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| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 15 2016
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