It was an historic day for Hendrick Motorsports as Alex Bowman assumed the lead under the final 100 laps following a stellar pit stop from his crew and went on to beat teammate Kyle Larson and win the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, May 16, as he also led a 1-2-3-4 finish for the HMS organization.
The starting lineup was based on a performance metric formula, weighing the driver’s and owner’s results from a previous Cup event, the owner points position and the fastest lap recorded from a previous Cup race. With that, Martin Truex Jr., winner of last weekend’s event at Darlington Raceway, started on pole position and was joined on the front row with Denny Hamlin, teammate and the regular-season points leader.
Prior to the race, Chase Elliott dropped to the rear of the field due to his car failing pre-race inspection twice. Ryan Newman also dropped to the rear due to unapproved adjustments. Josh Berry, who was making his NASCAR Cup debut in the No. 77 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, also dropped to the rear of the field due to a driver change as he replaced Justin Haley, who was absent from the Cup event and Saturday’s Xfinity Series event due to COVID-19 protocols.
When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Truex launched ahead with the lead followed by Kyle Larson, Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Truex, though, was able to lead the first lap with the field behind jostling for position.
Through the first 10 laps of the event, Truex continued to lead by half a second over Larson and nearly seven-tenths of a second over William Byron. Hamlin was in fourth followed by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher and Christopher Bell.
Five laps later, Byron, who had taken over the runner-up spot over teammate Larson, started to close in on Truex for the lead. Another lap later, Byron powered his No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to the lead.
By Lap 20, Byron was leading teammate Larson and Harvick while Truex slipped back to fourth place ahead of teammate Hamlin.
By Lap 30 and with the leaders approaching lapped traffic, Byron continued to lead by a narrow margin over teammate Larson. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch, who was running in the top 10, had fallen back to 12th place after reporting a mechanical issue to his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry.
When the field reached the competition caution on Lap 35, Byron maintained the lead over teammate Larson, Harvick, Truex and Hamlin. By then, Chase Elliott, who started at the rear of the field, was in 17th while Kyle Busch, who continued to have mechanical issues with his car, had fallen back to 23rd. In addition, names like Ryan Preece, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Cole Custer and Aric Almirola were spared from being lapped by Byron.
Under the competition caution, the leaders pitted and Larson was able to exit pit road ahead of teammate Byron. Following the pit stops, Tyler Reddick, Corey LaJoie and Michael McDowell were sent to the rear of the field for speeding on pit road.
When the race restarted on Lap 40, Larson took off with the lead followed by Harvick.
By Lap 50, Larson was out in front by half a second over Harvick while Byron, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin were in the top five. Chris Buescher was in sixth followed by Brad Keselowski, Logano, Alex Bowman and Elliott. Truex was back in 11th followed by Austin Dillon, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace and rookie Chase Briscoe. Kyle Busch was in 29th, the final car on the lead lap.
Three laps later, Kyle Busch, who continued to battle engine issues, was lapped by Larson. Meanwhile, Byron, who continued to run in third place, radioed brake issues to his car.
Through the first 70 laps of the event, Larson remained in the lead by nearly two seconds over Harvick followed by Byron. Behind, Corey LaJoie pitted due to a flat tire.
Five laps later, Larson extended his advantage to more than two seconds over Harvick followed by Byron, Blaney and Hamlin. Buescher, Logano, Keselowski, Elliott and Bowman all remained in the top 10 ahead of Austin Dillon and Truex, who was struggling with pace.
At the Lap 100 mark, Larson continued to lead by more than four seconds over Harvick followed by Byron, Blaney and Hamlin. Elliott moved up to sixth followed by Buescher, Logano, Bowman and Keselowski.
In the closing laps of the first stage, Larson increased his advantage to more than seven seconds. Behind, Hamlin moved up to second place followed by Blaney, Harvick and Elliott while Byron fell back to sixth.
On the final lap of the first stage, Chase Briscoe, who was trying to remain on the lead lap ahead of leader Larson, scrubbed the outside wall in Turn 1, though he was able to prevent the car from spinning. The debris from Briscoe’s damaged car was enough for the first stage to conclude under caution as Larson was able to claim his fifth stage victory of the season. Hamlin maintained the runner-up spot followed by Blaney, Elliott and Harvick while Byron, Logano, Bowman, Buescher and Keselowski were in the top 10.
Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Larson maintained the lead following his pit service. Hamlin exited in second place followed by Elliott, Blaney and Logano. Soon after, Truex made another pit stop to have damage to the front of his car repaired.
The second stage started on Lap 129 with Larson and Hamlin on the front row. At the start, Larson maintained the lead while Elliott drew his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE alongside Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry for the runner-up spot.
By Lap 135, Larson was leading by eight-tenths of a second over teammate Elliott followed by Blaney, Hamlin and Logano. Harvick, Buescher, Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Byron were in the top 10.
Through the first 150 laps of the event, Larson remained as the leader followed by teammate Elliott, Blaney, Hamlin and Logano. Harvick was in sixth followed by Byron, Buescher, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman. Kurt Busch and Keselowski were in 11th and 12th, Truex was in 14th ahead of Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace was in 17th behind Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch was in 36th, eight laps behind. By then, names like Cole Custer, Erik Jones, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, Christopher Bell, Matt DiBenedetto, Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were a lap behind.
More than 20 laps later, the caution returned when Josh Berry scrubbed the wall in Turn 2. Prior to the pit road opening for the leaders, Blaney pitted to have a hole on the front of his car fixed and due to a flat tire. When the pits opened, the leaders pitted and Larson retained the lead after exiting ahead of Elliott, Hamlin, Harvick and Byron.
When the race restarted on Lap 176, Larson launched ahead with a strong start followed by Elliott and Hamlin while Harvick and Byron battled for fourth place. In addition, Bowman, the fourth Hendrick Motorsports competitor, joined the party in sixth place.
By Lap 190, Larson extended his advantage to seven-tenths of a second over teammate Elliott while Hamlin, Byron and Harvick continued to run in the top five. A few laps later, Penske teammates Logano and Keselowski nearly made contact with one another in Turn 1 while battling for eighth place.
At the halfway mark on Lap 200, Larson was leading by nearly a second over teammate Elliott while teammate Byron trailed by nearly five seconds. Hamlin was in fourth while Bowman was in fifth, marking all four Hendrick Motorsports competitors in the top five. Harvick was in sixth followed by Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola.
By Lap 220, all four Hendrick Motorsports competitors were running first through fourth, with Larson leading Elliott, Bowman moving up in third and Byron back in fourth. Hamlin was in fifth followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Almirola. Logano, meanwhile, was in 13th behind Reddick and Truex.
Despite having teammate Elliott closing in for the lead, Larson was able to pull away late as he approached lapped traffic and win the second stage on Lap 240 for his sixth stage victory of the season. Elliott followed behind in second place followed by teammates Bowman and Byron while Hamlin was in fifth. Harvick, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Reddick were scored in the top 10. By then, names like Wallace and Logano remained on the lead lap.
Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Larson retained the lead following another stellar stop from his pit crew followed by Bowman, Elliott, Byron and Kurt Busch.
With 152 laps remaining, the final stage started. At the start, Larson rocketed away with another strong start while teammates Bowman and Elliott battled for the runner-up spot. Behind, a three-wide battle ensued between Harvick, Keselowski and Hamlin with Harvick moving into sixth place behind Kurt Busch while ahead of Keselowski and Hamlin.
Down to the final 135 laps of the event, Larson was out in front by more than two seconds over teammate Bowman with teammate Byron trailing by nearly three seconds and teammate Elliott trailing by three seconds. Kurt Busch, meanwhile, remained in fifth followed by Harvick, Keselowski, Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Reddick, Blaney, Ross Chastain, Almirola, Logano, Suarez and Truex.
Fifteen laps later, Larson stabilized his advantage to nearly three seconds over teammate Bowman with his other two teammates, Byron and Elliott, trailing by more than four seconds. Harvick was in fifth place, trailing by more than seven seconds, after overtaking former teammate Kurt Busch.
Down to the final 100 laps of the race, Larson remained in the lead followed by teammates Bowman, Byron and Elliott with Harvick in fifth. A lap later, though, the caution returned when Aric Almirola made hard contact into the Turn 3 outside wall after he blew a right-front tire, with fire eventually flaming out of Almirola’s car. The on-track incident marked Almirola’s fifth DNF and his sixth result of 30th or worse this season.
Under the caution period, the leaders pitted and Bowman, whose pit crew clocked off a fast pit service, emerged with the lead ahead of teammates Larson, Elliott and Byron with Harvick coming out in fifth.
With 92 laps remaining, the race restarted and Bowman maintained the lead over Larson and Elliott. Behind, Harvick overtook Byron for fourth with Hamlin lurking behind.
Six laps later, the caution returned when a bump from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sent rookie Anthony Alfredo sideways and spinning to the inside wall in Turn 2, where he made contact with the wall. In the midst of the incident, Stenhouse and Keselowski received minor damage to their respective machines.
Under caution, a majority of competitors led by Hamlin pitted while the rest led by Bowman remained on the track. Overall, all four Hendrick competitors along with Harvick, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace remained on the track.
With 81 laps remaining, the race restarted. At the start, Bowman pulled ahead followed by Larson while Elliott struggled to launch on the inside lane. Despite Larson challenging teammate Bowman for the lead through Turns 1 and 2, Harvick pulled his No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang alongside Larson’s No. 5 Nations Guard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in Turn 3, which allowed Bowman to maintain the lead.
While Bowman continued to lead under the final 75 laps, Larson remained within sight of the lead by nearly seven-tenths of a second followed by Elliott, Harvick and Byron. Suarez and Reddick maintained sixth and seventh while Wallace battled owner Hamlin for eighth place.
Just then, debris drew the caution, which jumbled the field and erased Bowman’s lead over teammate Larson. Under caution, a majority of the leaders remained on the track while others like Logano, Custer pitted.
The race restarted with 70 laps remaining and with teammates Bowman and Larson on the front row. At the start, Bowman maintained the lead followed by Larson and Elliott while Byron retook fourth place over Harvick.
Under the final 60 laps of the event, on-track battling occurring and with weather threats looming near the track, Bowman remained as the leader under half a second over a hard-charging Larson followed by Elliott, Byron and Harvick. Reddick, Suarez, Hamlin, Wallace and Logano were in the top 10 followed by Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch, Custer and Truex.
With 50 laps remaining, Bowman continued to lead by half a second over teammate Larson with teammates Elliott and Byron remaining in third and fourth. Harvick remained in fifth followed by Reddick, Suarez, Logano, Hamlin and Wallace, who had Blaney challenging him for more.
Down to the final 35 laps of the event, Bowman was leading by more than a second over teammate Larson while Elliott, Byron and Harvick stabilized themselves in the top five. Reddick, Logano, Suarez, Hamlin and Wallace also stabilized themselves in the top 10.
With 20 laps remaining, the gap between leader Bowman and runner-up Larson remained to more than a second, with teammate Elliott behind by more than two seconds and teammate Byron trailing by more than seven seconds. Harvick remained in fifth place while Logano overtook Reddick for sixth place. A few laps later, Custer overtook Wallace for 10th place.
Under the final 10 laps, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE driven by Bowman continued to lead by more than a second over teammate Larson, who continued to lose ground on his teammate for the top spot. Bowman maintained his healthy advantage under the final five laps of the event.
With no challengers closing in to his rear bumper, Bowman was able to come back around and claim the checkered flag ahead of his three HMS teammates.
The Dover victory marked Bowman’s first at the Monster Mile, fourth of his Cup Series career and second of this season as he joined Martin Truex Jr. as the only multi-winners of this year’s Cup season. He also returned the iconic No. 48 car to Victory Lane at Dover for the first time since 2017 made by Jimmie Johnson, who won at Dover 11 times. The 1-2-3-4 finish was a first for HMS and the fourth time done by a NASCAR team.
“We won Richmond and then had a really rough couple weeks there,” Bowman said on FS1. “[We] Went to some really good race tracks for us and struggled. [I] Told the guys last week, ‘We’re still the same team that did it at Richmond.’ It’s another really good place for us. I’m just so pumped for Ally. It feels right to put the No. 48 back in Victory Lane here after how many races this car has won here. Mr. [Hendrick] is here, I don’t think I’ve won with him here befrore, so that’s really cool. Just so proud of this pit crew. It was a rough off-season for us and a big void to fill…The whole pit crew’s doing a really good job. Thanks to my spotter, Kevin Hamlin, for coaching me there at the end. It was fun racing Kyle [Larson] and glad to get Hendrick Motorsports another win.”
With the Dover victory and career win No. 267, Hendrick Motorsports is one win away from tying Petty Enterprises for the most victories all-time in the Cup Series. In addition, Chevrolet is one win away from achieving 800 victories in NASCAR’s premier series.
“I can guarantee you, this is the most nervous I’ve ever been in a race,” Rick Hendrick said. “Great day for the organization. Alex, congratulations to him. This is a sign of the guys working together and bringing good stuff to the track. I don’t think it’ll hit me till tomorrow that we were able to finish 1-2-3-4. That’s pretty hard to do, things can happen, pit stops, tires, anything. That’s a first. We’ll take it. It’s a great day for us.”
Larson, who led a race-high 263 laps, crossed the finish line in second place, two seconds behind, and for his third runner-up result of the season.
“I felt like all of us, HMS guys, were pretty equal, so it was like whoever got out to the lead was gonna be hard to beat,” Larson said. “[Bowman’s] team just really did a good job on that pit stop, gain control of the race and never really had a shot after that. That one restart, I got to his bumper and got him loose, but [Harvick] was coming, so we had to let each other go, but hard to be disappointed with that second. I felt like I did everything I could. We led a lot of laps, won both stages. Good points, but I would’ve liked to have been one spot better…What a day for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet. Thanks to everybody at the shop, the engine shop. This is pretty amazing…That’s a pretty special day, for sure.”
Elliott finished in third place, three-and-a-half seconds behind, as he has yet to win this season. Byron capped off the 1-2-3-4 finish for Hendrick Motorsports by finishing fourth as he also captured his 11th consecutive top-10 result.
Logano emerged as the highest-finishing non-Hendrick Motorsports competitor by finishing fifth while Harvick, Hamlin, Reddick, Suarez and Custer finished in the top 10.
Wallace claimed his first top-15 finish of this season and for 23XI Racing by finishing 11th ahead of Blaney, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Chastain. Keselowski finished 16th, Truex came home in 19th and Kyle Busch capped off his long afternoon in 27th. Josh Berry finished 30th in his Cup debut.
There were 10 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 41 laps.
Denny Hamlin continues to lead the regular-season standings by 101 points over William Byron and 102 over Martin Truex Jr.
With the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular-season stretch halfway complete, 10 competitors (Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, William Byron, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell) are currently guaranteed a spot in the Playoffs based on winning at least once. Denny Hamlin would also be guaranteed a spot based on leading the regular-season standings. Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick are inside the top-16 cutline to the Playoffs as winless competitors, with Reddick ahead by 17 points over Matt DiBenedetto, 30 over Kurt Busch, 32 over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 38 over Ryan Newman, 49 over Bubba Wallace, 56 over Daniel Suarez and 58 over Ross Chastain.
1. Alex Bowman, 98 laps led
2. Kyle Larson, 263 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
3. Chase Elliott
4. William Byron, 21 laps led
5. Joey Logano
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Denny Hamlin, two laps led
8. Tyler Reddick
9. Daniel Suarez
10. Cole Custer
11. Bubba Wallace
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Kurt Busch
14. Austin Dillon
15. Ross Chastain
16. Brad Keselowski
17. Chris Buescher
18. Ryan Preece, one lap down
19. Martin Truex Jr., one lap down, 16 laps led
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., one lap down
21. Christopher Bell, four laps down
22. Erik Jones, four laps down
23. Ryan Newman, four laps down
24. Matt DiBenedetto, five laps down
25. Michael McDowell, five laps down
26. Corey LaJoie, seven laps down
27. Kyle Busch, seven laps down
28. Anthony Alfredo, eight laps down
29. Quin Houff, 12 laps down
30. Josh Berry, 12 laps down
31. Cody Ware, 13 laps down
32. Garrett Smithley, 17 laps down
33. James Davison, 18 laps down
34. Josh Bilicki, 19 laps down
35. Chase Briscoe, 65 laps down
36. B.J. McLeod – OUT, Engine
37. Aric Almirola – OUT, Accident
Next on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a trip to Austin, Texas, for the series’ inaugural event at the Circuit of the Americas for the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix. The event is slated to occur on Sunday, May 23, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1.