Picture by: Matt Hazlett
Matt Kenseth held off a charging Kyle Larson to win the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver gambled on the last pit stop of the evening by taking two tires. It paid off and put him into victory lane while qualifying him for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“It feels good to get this one for sure,” Kenseth said in victory lane. “We were tight all day on restarts. And on that last one, I got so loose, I thought Kyle was gong to get by me. … Kyle gave me all I wanted that’s for sure.”
Kenseth became the seventh different winner in a chaotic second half at the Monster Mile. On lap 353, a chain reaction ensued on a restart. An 18-car pile up took place after Jimmie Johnson could not proceed because of a gear issue. The multi-car wreck, which included Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and AJ Allmendinger, caused an 11-minute red flag.
“As soon as I went from second and tried to go third … it stopped before it ever went to third,” Johnson said
“In my career, I’ve never had a transmission do that to me. To lock out and not go across the gate and no gear available is something that has never happened to me.”
A battle for second between Kyle Larson and Carl Edwards sent Edwards spinning into the inside wall. The wall was protected by a SAFER barrier.
Kenseth held off Larson as well as rookie Chase Elliott to win his third career win at the one mile track. Kenseth battled with the young stars in the remaining laps Saturday afternoon, but was able to hold his position for his 37th Sprint Cup victory. He led 48 laps in his Dollar General Toyota Camry.
“I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once. I didn’t want to do anything dirty,” Larson said. “I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him.”