Dover International Speedway

Martin Truex Jr. tames the Monster Mile

Photo by: Sean Gardner

Martin Truex Jr. continued his dominance with his victory in the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway. Truex led the most laps of six drivers Sunday with 187 laps, scoring his third win within the last five races.

“I guess right now it’s just our time,” Truex said. “Throughout the summer, we led so many laps and had so many great race cars and so many great weekends that things would happen [and we’d lose].”

“Sometimes it was just rotten luck, sometimes it was mistakes or just circumstances that didn’t play out. But I think that the biggest thing is we just kept our heads in the game. We stayed focused on the things that truly matter, and when all that bad luck went away, here we are. I mean, it’s just been amazing.”

But right now that rotten luck has vanished for the time being, shifting to Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson. The Lowe’s Chevrolet team continues to stumble on mistakes that could have been prevented.

The No. 48 was hit with a penalty after a crewman went over the pit wall too early during a stop, forcing Johnson to return to pit road under green. Johnson battled back for a seventh place finish, but did not get the chance to contend for the win after leading 90 laps.

Johnson held a significant cushion to advance into the Round of 12. Those not as fortunate were Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, and Chris Buescher.

Both Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson failed to advance after being hit with their own misfortunes. McMurray suffered through a blown engine on Lap 193 after complaining of a vibration. Larson, who held the last advancing spot coming into Dover, finished 25th after hitting the wall.

Austin Dillon took advantage of the day, finishing eighth and advancing into the next round of the Chase. The driver remained focused during the race without worrying about where he stood in the Chase.

“I knew what we had to do.” He said.

The Round of 12 drivers head into Charlotte with a clean slate as the points reset to 3,000 each for the championship contenders. While there may be clear favorites, everyone is fair game and looking to lock themselves in early.

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Matt Kenseth wins AAA 400 at Dover

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism

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.”

Bubba Wallace finishes season best at Dover

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr finished second at Dover International Speedway Saturday afternoon in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200, a best Xfinity career finish.

Wallace’s began his weekend a bit rocky. The Roush Fenway driver was forced to go to a backup car after making contact with the wall during practice.

“Finishing second after the weekend started that’s not what we had in mind for sure, we just wanted to get outta here with a clean race and not another tore up racecar.” Wallace said, “I felt like if we could carry on what we had at the beginning of the heat race into the main, we would have a really good race. And it worked out. The credit goes to my guys obviously.”

Wallace stayed out under caution after Brendan Gaughan spun on lap 189 and helped push Erik Jones toward his second win of the year.

“We were kinda in the cat-bird seat, I was hoping Erik would mess up” Wallace said “But it’s really hard to mess up in those cars.”

Wallace credited his crew chief and team for their hard work toward the 2nd place finish with new sponsor Loud Mouth Exhaust.

“That was a good call by Seth. He’s known for making some gutsy calls. It worked out in our favor”

This is only Wallace’s second top-5 finish of the 2016 season, his last was at California in March.