For the first time in over two years, Kyle Larson took the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team to victory lane. It was his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Dover International Speedway and the sixth overall of his Cup Series career. Larson took the lead on pit road after Martin Truex Jr. had a slow stop on the right rear after his crew member slipped on pit road.
“It’s such a team event, to win in NASCAR, not only myself has to be on my game but everybody on our team does,” Larson said to MRN Radio describing the win. “We qualified well yesterday and had good pit stops today, great car obviously and made good adjustments. Just a well rounded day and you can’t thank them (pit crew) enough for it. It’s been fun. It was a struggle earlier in the year, obviously with all of our crashes and DNF’s but we had fast cars the whole time and today we showed how good we really are.”
Stages were 120-120-160 to make up the 400 lap race.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 120
It wasn’t all Kyle Larson as the race started. Denny Hamlin, who was making his 500th career Cup Series start, began on the pole and was dominant early on. In fact, Stage 1 was picture-perfect for Hamlin and his No. 11 team who went on to win the first stage.
However, a few others weren’t so lucky and were caught by “Miles The Monster” before the race even started. Playoff driver Joey Logano couldn’t even make a lap before he had an issue with a broken axle. Logano had to go behind the wall and fix the issue before returning to the track, 23 laps down.
Another playoff driver also had issues. Last week’s winner, Chase Elliott, had his engine expire on Lap 8. The team took it behind the wall to try and fix the problem but wound up with a disappointing last-place finish to begin the Round of 12.
After a few drivers had their problems early, Hamlin was smooth and took the win for Stage 1. Martin Truex Jr., Larson, William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney were the top-10 finishers in Stage 1.
During the stage break, Kyle Busch was caught speeding on pit road and Paul Menard had an uncontrolled tire sending both to the back of the field prior to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Lap 127- Lap 240
Stage 2 saw no yellows for incidents, but it did see a lead change. On lap 229, Truex took the lead from Hamlin and held on to win the second stage. Larson, Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson, Bowman, Jones, Blaney, Keselowski and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-10.
The pivotal moment of the race came on pit road. One of Truex’s crew members slipped while coming to change the right rear. This made Truex lose time and eventually the lead. In this case, Larson ended up winning the race off pit road, which would be crucial later on.
Stage 3: Lap 247- Lap 400
Like Stage 2, there were hardly any incidents that would bring out the caution, however, there were some notable problems that occurred for playoff drivers.
On Lap 272, Hamlin reported that his engine could be blowing up, though he was able to stay on track and finish the race. Then, on Lap 298 another playoff driver, Ryan Blaney, had his own issues. Blaney took his No. 12 machine behind the wall as he had lost his brakes. Blaney would end up in 35th.
Despite the challenges the playoff drivers faced, there were no problems for Larson and his No. 42 team. He won at Dover for the first time in his career and went to victory lane for the first time since Richmond in 2017.
“At some point in the second stage, I started changing what I was doing in the car,” Larson added to MRN Radio. “I was able to calm down and hit my marks better and keep my car lasting longer and we were making good adjustments at the same time. Just kind of how it all came together there. We had a good pit stop to restart as the leader. It was so hard to pass today.”
“Being the leader was important. Obviously we had a good car to go along with it and stretch out and maintain that gap. Traffic got a little crazy there but it got cleared out and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.”
Larson led four times for 154 laps and finished third in Stage 1, while finishing second in Stage 2. This is the first time that Chip Ganassi Racing has a team moving on to the Round of 8.
There were three cautions for 17 laps and 14 lead changes among nine drivers.
Official Playoff Standings
- Kyle Larson, Advanced to Round of 8
- Martin Truex Jr., +63
- Kyle Busch, +48
- Denny Hamlin, +48
- Kevin Harvick, +42
- Brad Keselowski, +20
- Alex Bowman, +17
- Joey Logano, +0
Below the cut line
- William Byron, -0
- Clint Bowyer, -4
- Chase Elliott, -7
- Ryan Blaney, -22
- Kyle Larson, led 154 laps
- Martin Truex Jr., led 15 laps and won Stage 2
- Alex Bowman
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin, led 218 laps and won Stage 1
- Kyle Busch
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch, one lap down
- Clint Bowyer, one lap down
- Brad Keselowski, one lap down
- Paul Menard, two laps down
- William Byron, two laps down
- Daniel Suarez, two laps down
- Erik Jones, two laps down
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., two laps down
- Aric Almirola, two laps down
- Austin Dillon, two laps down
- Ryan Preece, four laps down
- Bubba Wallace, five laps down
- Daniel Hemric, six laps down
- Ryan Newman, seven laps down
- Ty Dillon, seven laps down
- Michael McDowell, nine laps down
- Matt Tifft, 10 laps down
- Landon Cassill, 11 laps down
- David Ragan, 12 laps down
- Corey LaJoie, 15 laps down
- B.J. McLeod, 18 laps down
- Joe Nemechek, 19 laps down
- Ross Chastain, 20 laps down
- J.J. Yeley, 20 laps down
- Garrett Smithley, 23 laps down
- Joey Logano, 25 laps down
- Ryan Blaney, OUT, Suspension
- Chris Buescher, OUT, Engine
- Reed Sorenson, OUT, Handling
- Chase Elliott, OUT, Engine
Up Next: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers head to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, Oct. 13 for the continuation of the Round of 12.