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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Larson gets back to winning ways at Dover

DOVER, DELAWARE – OCTOBER 04: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Clover Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 04, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Larson began the second round, or Round of 12, of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win in the Drydene 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday. With the win, he secured his advancement to the third round of the playoffs, a first for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Everybody in this playoff field is going to be stressed next week at Talladega, except for me, so that’s good,” Larson said. “The last time I was at Talladega, I was on my lid and I could still end up on my lid next week, but it doesn’t matter after this win. What a day! This Clover Chevy was really good. After the first stage, I kind of changed my driving style up, and I felt like we made the car better at the same time. And they really benefitted our long runs. That’s as good as I’ve ever been around, cutting the bottom, here, so it was just a great combination here. To be fast in practice and, then, be good in the race, and you get the win. I can’t thank all you fans enough for coming out. This cool weather was nice for a change. This is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a ‘Golden Monster’ (trophy) is pretty sweet.”

Sunday’s win, the sixth of Larson’s career, also snapped a 75-race losing streak for Larson, his last win coming in the 2017 regular-season finale at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September of that year.

Martin Truex Jr. closed on Larson after Larson came out of a cycle of green-flag pit stops with a seven-second lead with 72 laps remaining, but lapped traffic kept him from catching all the way up with the race leader. Truex finished second.

Alex Bowman was third, Kevin Harvick fourth, and Denny Hamlin finished fifth after dominating the first half of the race but reporting an engine issue in the final 150 laps of the 400-lap race.

Hamlin dominated the first half of the racing, including a stage-one win on lap 120. He led 218 of the first 228 laps, the only laps he didn’t lead coming during a couple of green-flag cycles of pit stops.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Truex, took he lead on lap 229 and won the second stage at lap 240. Larson, then, got off pit road first to begin the third and final 160-lap stage as the leader and led most of the remainder of the race.

Playoff drivers Joey Logano and Chase Elliott struggled early. Logano headed to the garage because of a broken axle before the race took the green flag, and Elliott retired from the race after his engine blew on lap eight.

“I just had an engine failure of some sort,” Elliott said. “Unfortunately, we don’t really know what it was just yet. It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then, obviously, had a failure. It’s an unfortunate way to start this round, for sure.”

Logano was able to get his race started later and finish 34th. Elliott wound up last as the first driver out of the race.

Logano’s Team Penske teammate and fellow-playoff driver Ryan Blaney also failed to finish, heading to the garage on lap 299 after losing his brakes. As a result, he was credited with a 35th-place finish.

Kyle Busch finished sixth after overcoming a pit-road speeding penalty during the caution at the end of the first stage. Another playoff driver, William Byron, also received a speeding penalty, his coming during a green-flag cycle of pit stops just before lap 200. Byron wound up 13th at the checkered flag.

Non-playoff drivers Matt DiBenedetto and Jimmie Johnson finished seventh and eighth, and Kurt Busch was ninth after his elimination from the playoffs after round one. Playoff drivers Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski finished 10th and 11th.

The eighth-place playoff bubble is crowded, one race into round two, with Byron and Logano tied for eighth. Bowyer is four points out, Elliott seven points out and Blaney 22. The JGR trio of Truex, Hamlin and Kyle Busch are in the top-three positions to advance on points.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway:

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Posted by on October 6, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,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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