Dover Race Report
Kyle Busch led Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
What appeared to be a promising day for all three Joe Gibbs Racing teams, with each starting in the top four and leading a portion of the race, ended in disappointment for two. Matt Kenseth was forced to the garage from the lead with an early engine failure, while Hamlin was running in the top five late when a blown right front tire sent him into the wall. Hamlin would be scored in 29th at the drop of the checkered flag, while Kenseth was back in 40th.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota in third position but wasted very little time in working his way to the front of the field. Busch would take his first lead of the day on lap 24. With the exception of a cycle of green flag pit stops Busch would go on to lead the next 101 laps. He would temporarily give up the top spot to his teammate Kenseth, but an engine issue would take the 20 car out of the race and Busch returned to the lead once again. The M&Ms Camry would lead a total of 144 of the first 200 laps, but shortly after the midpoint of the race Busch would begin to experience tight handling conditions that dropped him back into the third position. Busch would radio in to crew chief Dave Rogers that something felt wrong with the right front of his vehicle but he managed to battle through the issue over the remainder of the race to remain in the top five and earn a strong fourth-place finish. His 150 laps led were the most of any driver on the day.
For the second consecutive week Denny Hamlin captured the pole and started his No. 11 FedEx Freight/Autism Speaks Toyota in first. Hamlin would lead the opening laps of the day before giving way to his teammate Busch on lap 24 as he battled some early handling conditions. Hamlin would drift back just outside the top ten, but crew chief Darian Grubb would make a call for two-tires on lap 162 which allowed the No. 11 Camry to jump back inside the top five for a restart on lap 165. Hamlin would remain inside the top five and appeared to be getting stronger as the race progressed, but he would suffer a blown right front tire while running fourth late in the race which resulted in the FedEx machine sliding up the track and into outside wall. Unfortunately the damage was significant and Hamlin’s once promising day and a likely third straight top-five would end with a disappointing 34th-place finish.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the fourth position and was strong early as he immediately drove into second behind his teammate and the pole sitter Hamlin. Kenseth would remain in the top five throughout the early going and a great pit stop by his team on lap 129 would allow him to restart first. Kenseth would go on to lead during the next green flag run, but was forced to take the Dollar General Camry to the garage on lap 159 when something broke in the engine. Kenseth led a total of 29 laps before his engine failure took him out of the race. He would not be able to return and had to settle for a disappointing 40th-place finish.
Tony Stewart won the race, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 32 laps and 21 lead changes among 11 different drivers.
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