MENCS Recap: Larson breaks winless streak

Denny Hamlin, making his 500th start, qualified on the pole for Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway after beating out Kyle Larson by three thousands of a second.

Joey Logano had rear end issues before the race started and was in the garage when the green flag flew. Hamlin and Larson pulled away from the lead, but only for a few laps before Chase Elliot also had an issue with his axel.

The two leaders again pulled away from the field as Larson challenged for the lead, before dropping back as the two navigate lapped traffic. As the run went on Larson fell back to fourth before he came to pit road starting the first cycle of green flag stops.

Hamlin maintained the lead after stops and won the first stage. Hamlin continued to maintain the lead through yellow flag stops and on the following restart. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. also showed competitive speed through the second stage.

Truex Jr. was the first driver to pit road for green flag stops in stage two. The remaining leaders quickly followed, and while Hamlin maintained his lead, it was Truex Jr. challenging for the lead.

In the closing laps of stage two it was Truex Jr. taking the lead as they fought through a lot of lapped traffic. Larson joined the battle taking the second position as things get dicey between the leaders. Even Harvick found himself battling for third without much success. At the end of stage two it was Truex Jr. with the green and white checkered.

Larson won the race off pit road, and was able to maintain the lead over Hamlin after the restart. Truex Jr. had some misfortune with a slow stop losing five spots on pit road.

After leading 218 laps, but running second Hamlin reported a possible engine failure, but it was Ryan Blaney with brake issues to be the next playoff contender in the garage. Shortly after Truex Jr. passed Hamlin for second, but trailed Larson by over 5.5 seconds.

With 80 laps to go the leaders began another cycle of green flag stops and on the other side of the cycle was Larson extending his lead to over 6.5 seconds.

With forty laps to go Truex Jr. had the gap down to less than two seconds as Larson found it difficult to navigate some of the faster lapped traffic. Larson was quick to extend the lead again as Truex Jr. had to struggle to pass the same cars.

Truex Jr. was unable to get back to Larson before the end of the race and it was Kyle Larson with the win to snap his 75 race winless streak.

Top Five: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin

The MENCS will be back on track next week at Talladega Superspeedway for the 1000bulbs 500 on October 13th at 2:00PM ET.

Thomas Latzkowski