Dover‘s event could have been called the Gloria Gaynor 400. Some survived, some did not. Good luck was what they wanted, what more than a few were hoping for, and what at least one got. Matt Kenseth might have been still sitting in a Chase place despite a season of hard knocks and snake bites, yet was proving that being good does not matter much if you are not there in the end. Sunday in Dover, the 2003 Cup Champion was there in claiming his 37th career victory to ease a whole lot of anxiety. However, not everyone had good luck. Not even close.
First, though, the fans were in luck at the end of Sunday’s contest. Kenseth was in front, Kyle Larson behind him, and Chase Elliott the second runner-up. The trio battled to the end, and while they finished in that order, it was the kind of racing NASCAR had dreamed of when they presented the latest car package. In this one, it may have come down to experience winning out over raw talent as they dueled back and forth. Come to think of it, it was no doubt good fortune for Kenseth that he had the clean driving Larson behind him instead of, oh say, Joey Logano. Some had dream finishes, while some were left dealing with nightmares.
Twenty-eight cars were running at the end of 400 laps, only half of those on the lead lap. Tony Stewart is having to play catch up this season after missing eight races, trying to move into the Top 30 as well as win one along the way. He lost ground at Dover, leaving it 67 points out after the track bar mount broke, punctured an oil tank, and he was done with 60 laps to run.
Ten circuits later, Jimmie Johnson was on the outside of the front row for a restart. He got into second fine, but third gear was denied by the transmission. Martin Truex Jr. buried his nose up, well, you know where, with Kevin Harvick continuing the train as the road got plugged in a hurry, as 18 vehicles became involved. With that, everything came to an abrupt end for Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola, who probably busted his pinky in the wreck. It also resulted in Logano, Jamie McMurray, and A.J. Allmendinger finishing outside the Top Twenty.
Out came the red flag to clean up the mess, but it did not take long after they restarted for more bad luck. Carl Edwards got a little loose in front of Larson, then got sent to the promised land where the infield fence’s safety barriers kept him from a more dire fate. Edwards was done in 28th. Bad luck, especially compared to Larson. I believe I mentioned where he finished.
Earlier, running in second place at the time, Brad Keselowski failed to clear Austin Dillon on a pass, tore off his right front fender while renovating Dillon’s left rear. Dillon got repaired and finished 33rd. That was bad luck. Keselowski got repaired and finished sixth. Yes, that would be good luck. Among those currently in a Chase place, seven failed to finish among the Top 20 at Dover, five not even among the Top 30.
At least they can take a bit of a break from points racing, as before the World 600 at the end of the month, Charlotte hosts the All-Star weekend, with the big race slated for Saturday night. After the fun times in Dover, good luck to ‘em all.