Matt Kenseth Holds Off Kyle Larson And Chase Elliott For Monster Win In Dover

Matt Kenseth Holds Off Kyle Larson And Chase Elliott For Monster Win In Dover

by May 15, 2016 0 comments

DOVER, Del. – Matt Kenseth held off a hard-charging Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott in a thrilling battle for the win in the final laps of Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway.

Sunday’s win marked the first of the 2016 season for Kenseth, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Dollar General Toyota. The 44-year old Wisconsin native now has three career series wins at the speedway. He led 48 laps en route to the victory.

“It feels good to be in victory lane,” Kenseth said. “It always feels good to win. Dover has always been my favorite track. I made my first Cup start here many moons ago. We only got a couple of these things. It feels good to get one and I feel like this is usually one of my better places and it’s been a little bit of a struggle lately. It feels good to be here, for sure.”

Kyle Larson led 85 of the 400 total laps and fought for the lead in the closing miles of the race. The driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet was able to hold on to finish second, earning his third top-10 finish of the 2016 season.

“I was trying to do all I could do to get by him (Matt Kenseth) without getting into him,” Larson said. “I probably could have bumped him a little bit there in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2, but it was a lot of fun racing with Matt, there. I was just trying to be patient. I knew I was better than he was. And then the No. 24 (Chase Elliott) got to third, and he was catching us pretty quick and then I got side-by-side with the No. 20 (Kenseth) for a couple of laps and he got to my inside; we got to race really hard. And then the No. 20 got back away and by the time I got to second, he was just a little bit to far in front of me. I got another shot there at the end, but I came up a little bit short.”

Rookie Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, battled into the third position for the finish after mixing it up with Larson in the final laps. Elliott earned his first top-10 finish at Dover International Speedway in only one start at the one-mile track.

“It was definitely wild from my view,” Elliott said. “If the fans didn’t get what they wanted to see today then they need to go do something else. That was a heck of a race in my opinion.  Obviously, wish we could have come out on top. Matt (Kenseth) and Kyle (Larson) were racing really hard for the lead. I tried to steal one from them. They were a little better than we were, but we worked hard and tried to stay in the ball game today and fortunately came out with a decent finish, just not close enough.”

The 400-lap race at the Monster Mile saw 12 cautions for a total of 65 laps. An 11-minute red flag was caused by a major pile-up on the frontstretch on lap 356 when Jimmie Johnson restarted on the front row, but his transmission was stuck in gear, creating a traffic jam through the field. The restart resulted in a crash collecting 18 cars, sending many to the pits and garage.

“As soon as I went from second and tried to go to third, I kind of got up into the neutral gate of the transmission and didn’t even go to third,” Johnson said. “It stopped before it ever went to third. And then I tried fourth and third and fourth and eventually I got hit from behind. There was a long pause there where I was trying to, I thought maybe I missed a shift; but it wouldn’t go in gear. Martin (Truex, Jr.) was good and patient with me. He gave me a couple of opportunities to try to find a gear and it just locked out and wouldn’t go into gear for some reason.”

Johnson continued and said, “And in my career, I’ve never had a transmission do that to me. I’ve had them kind of lock out of reverse at a test session or even in the garage area or something, but to lockout and not go across the gate and then no gear available is something I’ve never had before.”

Finishing behind Kenseth, Larson and Elliott were Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch, completing the top-five in Sunday’s race at Dover.  Brad Keselowski finished sixth, followed by Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

Kevin Harvick currently leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings. He leads Kyle Busch  by 21 points and Kurt Busch  by 32 points. Carl Edwards, 37 points back and Jimmie Johnson, 48 points back complete the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend, where qualified competitors will compete for $1 million. Race weekend coverage begins with the Sprint Showdown on Saturday, May 20 and the Sprint All-Star race on Saturday, May 21. Both events will be aired on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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Camille Jones

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