Race Report: Dover
Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. Teammate Denny Hamlin joined Kenseth in the top five with a fifth-place finish while Kyle Busch was involved in an accident that left him in 42nd despite leading the first 81 laps of the race.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota 21st, but proved strong from the outset as he drove his way into the top 10 by lap 60 and entered the top five by lap 80. The Dollar General Camry would take its first lead on lap 159 and Kenseth would lead five different times on this day including a 13 lap stretch just prior to the halfway mark. He would race the remainder of the afternoon inside the top five. Kenseth would restart on the outside of race leader Jimmie Johnson with four to go, but didn’t get the restart he hoped for and dropped back to third. He would hold that spot to the finish and the third-place effort makes Kenseth and the Dollar General team the current leaders in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight/Autism Speaks Toyota in the seventh position and also proved to have a strong race car as he entered the top five on the opening green flag run of the race. A pit road speeding penalty while exiting the pits on lap 67 would set Hamlin back however as he was forced to drop back in the field and was running outside the top 20 following the penalty. The FedEx team showed little panic however and Hamlin came right back and proved just how strong his FedEx Camry was on this day as he was back inside the top five by lap 160. He would run near the top five the remainder of the afternoon and when a late caution came out crew chief Darian Grubb would make the call to bring him down pit road for fresh tires. He would manage to race his way back to a fifth-place finish over the final four lap run.
Busch qualified his No. 18 M&Ms Peanut Butter Toyota on the outside pole and wasted no time going to the front of the field as he led the opening 81 laps of today’s race. During that time Busch surpassed the 10,000 mark for laps led in his career. It appeared that Busch was a strong contender to complete his second weekend sweep in his career of all three NASCAR national series races after winning the Camping World Truck Series race Friday night and then capturing yesterday’s Nationwide Series race in the Monster Energy Toyota. He was running strong and looking to make a pass on the outside of the 15 car when that car moved up the track and into M&Ms Camry. The contact forced Busch into the outside wall and caused heavy damage. The M&Ms Peanut Butter Camry was done for the day and Busch would finish a disappointing 42nd.
Jimmie Johnson won the race followed by Brad Keselowski, Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and Hamlin rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 41 laps including two red flag cautions and 18 lead changes among six different drivers.