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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch makes last-lap pass to win at Dover

Kyle Busch celebrates on the frontstretch of Dover International Speedway after winning the Apache Warrior 400 on Oct. 1, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kyle Busch celebrates on the frontstretch of Dover International Speedway after winning the Apache Warrior 400 on Oct. 1, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Busch passed Chase Elliott on the final lap of the Apache Warrior 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday to claim his fourth win of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his second race of the three-race first round of the playoffs.

“Just, we kept working on it all day long,” Busch said. “We kept making adjustments to it every pit stop, every chance we got, and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a really, really good job of that, and I think the biggest thing there at the end was just having a little bit fewer, fresher lap tires than Chase did, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough when I got close. I got within five lengths, and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it.’ You know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lap cars in front of him, so I think the lap cars actually helped us with that one, but overall, just great day for us. Great job by the team being able to get in victory lane here in Dover. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in victory lane here, and it’s hard to come by wins here, because Jimmie (Johnson) takes up all the darn monster trophies, but it’s nice to have a third of fourth in my collection – I can’t remember.”

Chase Elliott finished second after leading a race-high 138 laps, running up front for most of the 160-lap third and final stage of the 400-lap race.

“I’m just so disappointed in myself,” Elliott said. “Golly, I couldn’t have had it any easier. It ran green from the stage break all the way to the end, and I gave it away. I appreciate my team and their efforts today. The pit stops were great and they kept us in the ballgame. I didn’t.”

Jimmie Johnson was third, Martin Truex Jr. was fourth, and Kyle Larson was fifth after leading 137 laps.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed the final of the 12 advancing spots to the second round of the playoffs by two points over Ryan Newman and four over Newman’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.

Also failing to advance to round two, set to get underway next weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway were Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.

“Disappointed in the way that I drove all through this playoff run,” Kurt Busch said. “I was driving at 101 percent, trying to get every ounce of speed out of it. It just never had a flow for three races. We might have finished 10th here today. The wreck last week really put us in a hole. We needed a perfect day today and playoff stage points. We just really never did well in stage one, and I thought that it might be our Achilles heel. If we add up the numbers (that’s) probably where it was. I can’t fault anybody. We ran hard. We gave it everything we had.”

Truex and Larson led most of the first two stages of the race that made up the first 240 laps of the 400-lap event, with Larson winning stage two. Brad Keselowski, though, was the winner of the first stage.

When the yellow flag waved for the first time when Jeffrey Earnhardt hit sand barrels at the entrance of pit road, the race was red-flagged for sand cleanup and repair to the barrel barrier. Before the caution, everyone except Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Stenhouse, Danica Patrick and David Ragan had already pitted under green, leaving those five drivers as the only five on the lead lap.

Those five drivers pitted during the caution and previous lead-lap cars took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.

Truex got up to third and Larson to sixth by the time the first stage ended at lap 120. Meanwhile, Stenhouse remained in the top-five through the remainder of the opening stage to earn stage points toward his efforts to advance in the playoffs.

“The feeling is lucky, really,” Stenhouse said. “We caught the caution, there, right at the right time with a perfect amount of laps left in the stage to get stage points and that was the turning point of the day. Our Fastenal Ford was, definitely, not close to what we needed, especially the last two runs. We were close before the last two runs and made some adjustments, there, and really fell off. All in all, like I said, I feel lucky that we had all the mistakes at Chicago and really not a good car at Chicago, Loudon or Dover, but we still made it in. Really, it is hats off to the guys for fighting all day and it is nice that the round starts over.”

Kyle Busch was first out of the pits during the yellow between the first two stages to start stage two with the lead. On lap 141, though, Larson and Truex were back up to the top-two spots in the running order..

Larson was up front for the start of the final stage, but just before the restart, he bobbled because of a power issue, and Elliott got to the top spot on the restart.

“It was a really good race,” Larson said. ”I won that second stage and was the leader off pit road, and then, my engine was kind of struggling firing up when I would cycle the engine and cool it down under yellows. It just didn’t re-fire that one time and had to restart fifth and fell back to sixth.  Kind of hard to pass when I got back there. I couldn’t really move up the race track, because I would be in dirty air. We short-pitted, got to third, but fell back and finished fifth.  I felt like, if I could have restarted the leader, I probably would have had a shot to win like the No. 24 (Elliott), but once I had restarted on the inside of the third row, I was kind of done unless I had a caution, which there wasn’t any left the rest of the race.”

Finishing the race sixth through 10th were Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 1, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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