Kurt Busch, behind the wheel of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge, conquered the concrete track at Dover for the first time ever to score his second win of the season. This was his 24th victory in 393 Cup Series races.
“To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, that’s what it’s all about,” Busch said. “We had everything go wrong last week and everything go right this week.”
Busch’s race win puts him firmly in fourth place in the point standings.
“This is the playoffs,” Busch said. “I feel like we’re right in the mix. You just have to cover up those bad days.”
Busch’s crew chief echoed his driver’s sentiments, making the right calls at the right time. And Penske Racing’s team leadership, including the Director of Competition, could not have been more pleased.
“We had to put a good bit of wedge in it and finally found a direction with the tire pressure,” Steve Addington, Busch’s crew chief said. “Then it came to life. We finally got us another win with this No. 22 car.”
“This is definitely awesome,” Travis Geisler, Director of Competition for Penske Racing, said. “We knew that the No. 22 was a good car. To win in the Chase is awesome.”
Busch was trailed by two other Chase contenders, Jimmie Johnson, in the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet, who finished as runner up and Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford, who overcame a pit road speeding penalty to finish third.
Johnson scored his 14th top-10 finish in 20 races at the Monster Mile. It was his 19th top-10 finish of the season.
“Obviously it was a great day for us to lead that many laps and having great stops on pit road,” Johnson said of his runner up finish. “I wish that we could be one stop better.”
“But all in all, it was exactly what we needed,” Johnson continued. “Mission accomplished.”
With his second place finish, Johnson is now fifth in the point standings, just 13 points out of the lead. With that, Johnson couldn’t help but poke a little fun in the media center, especially since many had pronounced him out of contention for the championship.
“Are we out of this?” Johnson asked coyly. “Last week we were considered done.”
Edwards posted his 11th top-10 finish in 15 races at Dover International Speedway. For Edwards, however, who won the Nationwide race at Dover the day before the Cup race, this was a hard fought battle back to the front after his mistake on pit road.
“It was a great day other than that feeling I had when I ruined it on pit road,” Edwards said. “That’s about as small as you can feel in a race car.”
“We talked about it before the race on pit road but I just blasted right through it,” Edwards continued. “As frustrated as I am with myself, I’m grateful for the gift I was given, especially with my guys sticking beside me.”
“That was fun.”
After Busch, Johnson and Edwards, Matt Kenseth was the next highest Chase finisher. The driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford, finished fifth.
“We got lucky,” Kenseth said. “The last restart was good but the one before that was no good.”
“As good as everybody is these days and as equal as everybody is, it’s important to get a good finish every week,” Kenseth continued. “You need to be in the top five to be able to stay in the hunt.”
Kevin Harvick, this week sporting a pink No. 29 Rheem Chasing the Cure Chevrolet, assumed the points lead with his top-10 finish. He is, however, tied with Carl Edwards, but has a higher number of wins so is the highest seed.
“Obviously, we circled this one as a place to come to overcome some things,” Harvick said. “We had to put two tires on there at the end to protect the track position side of it.”
Harvick admitted that the competition is so equal. In fact, only 15 points currently separate the top eight in the point standings.
“The competition level is so even,” Harvick said. “You’re going to have to be consistent and solid and keeping yourself in contention until the last couple of races.”
There were four non-Chasers who finished in the top ten at the Monster Mile. Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, finished fourth; A.J. Allmendinger, behind the wheel of the No. 43 Best Buy Ford, finished seventh; Clint Bowyer, in the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, finished eighth; and Marcos Ambrose, in the No. 9 Stanley Ford, finished ninth.
“We weren’t quite good enough to win,” Allmendinger said. “It was a solid day. Obviously, we want to try to win, but at least we were there all day.”
“We’ve been bashed up pretty good the last month so it’s just good to come back with a solid day,” Ambrose said. “I’m proud of my team. They’ve stood by me after a tough month and I’m looking forward to getting to Kansas.”
|Unofficial Race Results|
|AAA 400, Dover International Speedway|
|24||21||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||20|
|30||1||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||15|
|33||37||71||Andy Lally *||Ford||11|