A race that featured a pothole ended with NASCAR’s most dominant driver going back to victory lane for his second straight victory. Jimmie Johnson earned his second win a row as he led 272 of the 400 laps run in Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover.
Johnson has now won nine times at the Monster Mile, extending his record for having the most wins at the track. The win marks Johnson’s 68th career victory on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. On a restart with less than five laps to go, the No. 48 Chevrolet was able to hold off a hard charging Brad Keselowski for the win after passing Matt Kenseth who spun his tires on the restart.
“Our whole day, we were in a range and we were balanced pretty well, just couldn’t run that fast," Kenseth said in a post-race press conference. “If we tried running fast, we just couldn’t run that quickly. We just started off too tight and if we started out decently, we would be too loose at the end of a run. We were just trying to keep up with track position.”
"The first run or two, I didn't think we were in a dominant position, but towards the end of the first run, things started coming around and I felt like we were in great shape," Johnson said. "It was an awesome racecar. The first run wasn't sure we were really going to have the normal Dover magic here.
However, the win did not come easy as the entire field was thrown a curve ball before the half-way point of the race.
Suddenly, a piece of debris went flying into the air. There was thought that it was a can at first, but conclusions came that one of the strangest incidents occurred.
Jamie McMurray was running 16th when his No. 1 car suddenly hit a piece of the track. As he was coming out of Turn 2, McMurray hit a piece of concrete which sent his Chevrolet into the wall on the backstretch. The race was red flagged as track officials worked on repairing the hole in Turn 2 which was approximately six inches according to team radios.
“We will do the best job that we can and see what we can get,” McMurray’s crew chief, Keith Rodden said after NASCAR wouldn’t enable them to work on the car during the red flag.
NASCAR Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton said after the race that it was against the rules, but there has been exception to that specific rule in the past. Pemberton referenced the cable issue at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2013 as an example of when NASCAR would enable teams to work on cars under red flag conditions. Pemberton also stated that an epoxy-type solution was used to patch up the hole.
Besides having damage to the pavement, the cross-over bridge above the turn was also bruised in the incident. A piece of glass on the bridge’s outer part shattered as the concrete flew up into the air. The bridge is approximately 30 feet above the track surface according to a track spokes
Kevin Harvick stated that some guys were looking at that area on Saturday after the NASCAR Nationwide Series event. He noticed the track was coming up, but it was not worked on.
“I saw it this morning on the way to the driver's meeting," Johnson said over the radio to his crew during the red flag. "It was already coming up. I was wondering if they'd seen it."
The red flag lasted just over 22 minutes as a speedy-dry type of concrete was used to fill the hole.
As pit stops were about to start, Alex Bowman blew out a tire to throw out the first caution of the day, but A.J. Allmendinger attempted to short pit and was caught a lap down with just 25 cars on the lead lap after 65 laps.
Clint Bowyer was attempting to pass Kyle Busch in Turn 4 when he got into Busch’s No. 18 Toyota, sending him into the wall. He successfully got around Busch, but then he went right into the fence. After the wreck, Busch stalked Bowyer’s car during the caution, attempted to give him a tap, and then went into the garage with his beat up car. Busch rushed over to his motor home where he could not be reached for comment.
Allmendinger got into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who then hit his teammate, Greg Biffle. The rear end of the No. 16 Ford was destroyed, and the entire right side of Stenhouse’s car had to be cut off in the garage after he hit the inside wall on the backstretch.
“I didn’t see it coming," Biffle said in the garage area. "They were about two and a half groove up on the top and it looked like A.J. tried to squeeze Ricky there. When he came up off the bottom, he turned right into me. It really sucks. We were racing hard there, and that’s what happens when you are back there.”
As he was leading the race, Harvick blew a right-side tire following the restart after the red flag. Bowman got into the will two more times following his initial wreck, and went to the garage after blowing a tire on Lap 221.
Ryan Newman was working his way inside of the top-10 after running approximately 20th for the first half of the race, but had a transmission failure which forced his No. 31 crew to go to the garage. Newman was mandated to a 31st-place finish.
Entering Dover, four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was leading the points standings. Gordon was contending for a top-five spot the majority of the day. Evidently, the handling gave out on the No. 24 Chevrolet, ending the day in 15th.
After the 400-mile race, Gordon relinquished the points lead to Kenseth, who has yet to win a race this year. Kenseth leads the standings by two markers over Gordon with Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson with Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top-five.
After 13 races, 10 drivers are all but locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Kenseth, Larson, Newman, Vickers, Menard and Dillon being the remaining six drivers who are high enough in points to race in the Chase as of now.
Here are some notables from the FedEx 400:
- Clint Bowyer earned his first top-five finish of the year at a non-restrictor plate track by crossing the stripe in the fourth position.
-Martin Truex Jr. recorded his best finish of the young season on Sunday afternoon by finishing in sixth.
-Tony Stewart made a hard charge for the lead late in the race, but after the late-race caution, Stewart fell back to the seventh position.
-Finishing 11th, Kyle Larson was the Rookie of the Race. Larson started at the rear of the field for an engine change, but sporadically made his way up through the field.
-Making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut – Brett Moffitt finished 22nd in the No. 66 Toyota Camry for Identity Ventures Racing.
-Danica Patrick finished 23rd on Sunday – her best career finish in four starts at Dover.
-After experiencing fuel pickup issues throughout the day, David Gilliland ended the day in 29th.
-Blake Koch recorded a career-best finish of 30th in the No. 32 Ford. Making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start, Koch outran his previous best finish of 35th during this year’s Coca-Cola 600 where he finished 35th.
-J.J. Yeley had his third engine failure for the third consecutive time this year.
-Paul Menard earned his seventh top-10 of the season with a 10th-place finish at Dover. Menard's career-best years in 2012 and 2013 consisted of nine top-10s each.
The Sun is shining down on the Dover International Speedway. With fans taking selfies by Miles the Monster, everyone is gearing up for the FedEx 400.
Entering Sunday’s event at Dover, there have been 34 different drivers to cross the finish line ahead of the rest of the field in the 88 Sprint Cup Series races that have been run at the one-mile speedway. In Sunday’s race, 12 of those drivers will be fighting for the checkered flag once again.
Jimmie Johnson enters Dover as the all-time wins leader at the Monster Mile, and he scored his first victory of the season during the Coca-Cola 600. If Johnson were to win on Sunday, it would be his ninth victory at the track in what will be his 25th start. Johnson will be starting fourth for the FedEx 400, but was arguably the best car during Happy Hour as teams were discussing how to beat the No. 48 team.
Kyle Busch has won both races at Dover to start the weekend, but can he keep up his dominance? Well, albeit he did not post a stunning lap time during either of Saturday’s practice sessions, Busch was moderately quick during his run of 10 consecutive laps during the morning session. A win on Sunday would mark Busch’s 30th career win in NASCAR’s top-tier division.
Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for the FedEx 400 as Team Penske continues their dominance with the new qualifying format. Keselowski is roughly around where he was at this point last year, but has a win which is evidently the difference maker for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. He won at Dover back in 2012, and was inside of the top-two throughout the Saturday practice sessions.
Entering Dover, there have been 10 different winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in just 12 races this year. With only six spots remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, drivers such as Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle are still winless as they attempt to get adjusted to the new aero package which NASCAR has thrown at the teams.
Joey Logano lost his first Nationwide Series race at Dover on Saturday as he attempted to win his fifth straight race at the speedway. However, Logano just could not hold off Busch who was extremely quick throughout the entire 200-mile race.
A.J. Allmendinger will start 11th in the No. 47 Toyota for JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger led a large portion of the 2010 version of the fall race at Dover, but has just one top-10 since then. Allmendinger has three top-10s this season as the team has taken advantage of their alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
Speaking of RCR, they have yet to score a victory this season. After scoring a top-10 at Daytona to start the year off, Austin Dillon has yet to crack the top-10 at any race since, and his teammate have been running well, but once again – the numbers show they are not contending for wins. Ryan Newman has led just 10 laps this year, but has four top-10s as he has been consistent enough to hold a spot inside of the top-10 in points. However, Paul Menard has arguably been the strongest car in the RCR camp. Menard was close to a victory at Las Vegas, which happens to be the only top-five RCR has recorded this season.
Rowdy has been hot as of late. Kyle Busch has won the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series events at Dover International Speedway, and there has been no one to stop him.
After leading 75 percent of the laps during the Truck Series race, Busch conquered the Nationwide Series circuit, pacing the field for 124 of the 200 laps in the Buckle Up 200. The dominating efforts are no surprise as Busch has had extensive success at Dover in each of NASCAR’s top-three divisions since he joined the Sprint Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports in 2005.
Busch has two Sprint Cup Series victories at Dover entering Sunday’s 400-mile spectacle. After leading 150 or more laps in two of the last three Dover races, Busch has a realistic shot at getting the broom stick out for his second career weekend sweep. Starting in the second position, Busch will have to battle pole sitter, Brad Keselowski, as well as Jimmie Johnson – who has the most career victories at Dover with eight.
During practice for the FedEx 400, Busch did not put up any stunning single lap speeds, but he had a fast car on the long run. Even though he was 15th in practice, Busch was fifth in the 10 consecutive lap averages in the second practice. However, as the track heated up early Saturday afternoon, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota was 18th of 29 cars to run 10 consecutive laps on the track.
With his pair of victories at Dover, Busch is deemed to get another Monster trophy on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, Busch joked about how many Dover trophies he now has – comparing it to his collection of 16 trophies at Bristol.
Kyle Busch is two for two this weekend at the Dover International Speedway. After dominating the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Friday afternoon, Busch scored his 66th career win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and now has a total of 134victories in NASCAR’s top-three divisions.
Busch led 124 of the 200 laps in the Buckle Up 200, providing the eighth win at Dover for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series. He restated his dominance, especially on restarts as he was able to pull out front within the first two laps of each restart, providing the No. 54 car with a comfortable lead for the long green flag runs. Entering this weekend’s events at Dover, no driver had previously won both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series events at the Monster Mile. Busch will be looking to complete the Dover triple on Sunday afternoon during the FedEx 400.
Late in the race, Trevor Bayne was able to get around Joey Logano, who had won four straight Nationwide Series contests at Dover prior to this weekend. Logano led 59 laps on Saturday’s spectacle, but just didn’t have a car capable of keeping up with Busch who was setting a staggering pace after the second round of pit stops.
"This team has made some really big gains this week. We have been eighth to 10th every week and it kind of stinks to be that close. I will never complain about a second place finish, but when you can get that close, you want to keep going," Bayne said.
After being more than two seconds behind Busch, Bayne close the gap to less than half of a second with 15 laps to go. However, Bayne just could not keep up with Busch who showed signs of getting stronger within the concluding 10 markers. This marks Bayne’s second top-five of the year, and now sits fourth in points.
Regan Smith leaves Dover with a four point lead over Elliott Sadler as the two were battling for the ninth position late in the race. After leading the race early, Chase Elliott ended up finishing fifth, and is now 22 points behind his teammate, Smith, for the points lead.
Cale Conley was running 18th, just trying to earn experience when James Buescher got loose off of Turn Four, and slid into Ryan Reed. Reed tried to save it, but slammed into Conley, tossing his No. 33 Chevrolet into the outside wall in Turn One.
Dylan Kwasniewski had a track bar issue late in the race, sending his No. 31 Chevrolet to pit road where he went 12 laps down.
Kyle Busch has scored yet another victory in NASCAR’s third-tier division. Busch dominated the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover, leading over 75 percent of the event. The victory marks Busch’s fourth victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Dover, and it is 39th victory in 119 starts. This also marks the eighth time Busch had recorded a perfect rating in the Truck Series.
Throughout the first 22 laps, there were three cautions as Busch started to utilize higher groove.
Busch’s teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr. tapped the wall on Lap 43, forcing him to pit while in the sixth position.
As Kyle Busch was pitting on Lap 75, the caution came out for Brennan Newberry slamming the wall on the front stretch. Busch went from first to eighth, but worked his way to third within a lap.
“We were well inside of the top-10 and the NTS Motorsports guys were really good. We are trying to get some more exposure for Qore-24. My crew chief, Gere Kennon, had the truck working good where we actually practiced in the dark and kind of had a cloud. We were just trying to buy our time, and we were just catching people all of a sudden. Racing is tight here at Dover, and we didn’t get the groove that we wanted, and we ran out of real estate and spun around,” Newberry said after the race.
Crafton slammed the wall exiting turn two on Lap 157, forcing an abrupt end to his day as he seemingly had a truck that could contend with Busch for the victory. He entered Dover with an 11 point lead over Timothy Peters. After the race, Crafton said he broke a wheel and that was it. Now, Peters is ahead of Johnny Sauter and Crafton by just one marker.
German Quiroga got into Gray Gaulding entering turn three, sending the No. 20 Chevrolet spinning into the outside wall, and collecting Ben Rhodes in the process.
“ The No. 20 and No. 77 were battling hard and I was working on staying up high and setting him (Quiroga) up so I can work on the No. 20, but they got together entering the corner and the No. 77 was aero loose. They came together at the wrong time and collected me in the wreck,” Rhodes said.
Brandon Jones recorded a career-best finish of fourth after getting the lucky dog on the fifth caution of the day. Jones ran as high as second, but was able to earn his first career top-10 finish. Ryan Blaney was able to take advantage of Crafton’s wreck after running third all day, and finished runner-up to Busch.
There were a total of seven cautions with four different leaders and six lead changes.