The AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover featured just about everything you could think of. Long green flag runs, drivers running out of fuel, flat tires and even a long red flag. The race was lengthened by about 45 minutes due to the rainy skies, but the fans that waited out the rain were treated to a good finish once again.
Stage one kicked off with Kevin Harvick out front with Martin Truex Jr. next to him. Kyle Larson qualified on the pole, but was forced to start in the rear due to failing pre-race inspection. Harvick jumped out front on the initial start to the race with Truex in tow.
But on lap five, the caution came out as Darrell Wallace Jr. got into Michael McDowell. Wallace just nudged McDowell enough to send him spinning and bringing out the early caution. Both cars were able to continue on with minimal damage.
Larson and Alex Bowman were the only two cars to pit under this early caution for tires and fuel.
The caution came out once again on lap 21 as Corey LaJoie’s engine blew up. This was the third engine failure he experienced this season across his four races.
All drivers except Larson and Bowman pitted under this caution, leaving them to restart first and second. On the restart, the two were able to slip away for a handful of laps.
After leading 26 laps, Bowman relinquished the lead to Brad Keselowski, who had the fresher tires.
With 22 laps to go, Truex pits under green as he had a right front tire going flat. Larson and Bowman also pitted under green late in the stage.
With 13 to go in stage one, Harvick took the lead away from Keselowski, who was driving a bit slower to save fuel. Denny Hamlin ran out of gas with two to go, but was able to coast around to end the stage under green.
Harvick won the stage with Kyle Busch passing Keselowski for second as he ran out of fuel. Keselowski coasted to a third-place finish with Daniel Suarez and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.
Harvick began the second stage right where he started and ended the previous one, first. Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top three for the restart.
Just 32 laps into the stage, Derrike Cope brought out the caution as he spun and smacked the inside wall hard. On pit road during the caution, Keselowski beat Harvick out for the lead.
On the ensuing restart, Keselowski opened up a gap and held Harvick back for a good period of time.
But with just 40 to go in the stage, Harvick made a charge for the lead and took it away from Keselowski once again.
The stage continued the next 40 laps under green with Harvick leading to grab his second stage of the day. Keselowski finished second, Kyle Busch third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth.
Once again, Harvick began the stage in the top spot, with Keselowski next to him and Kyle Busch in third. On the restart, the top three all remained in those positions until the next caution.
The next caution came out with 147 laps to go as Cody Ware crashed hard into the outside wall.
Just 18 laps later, Kyle Busch brought out the caution as his drive shaft broke. His car released smoke and fluid all over the track that required a long cleanup. Busch finished the race 35th, his first finish outside of the top 13 since Daytona.
Busch had been complaining of a vibration in his car from the drop of the green in stage one, but it seemed to have subsided throughout the day. Unfortunately for Busch, it returned and ruined his solid day.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray stayed out under the caution to restart first and second.
On the restart, Stenhouse pulled away from the field as McMurray got freight-trained by the cars behind him. Bowyer cycled out second with Joey Logano third.
After Stenhouse led 24 laps, Bowyer ran him down and took the lead with 103 laps to go.
With 84 laps to go, the caution flag waved as rain fell on the track. The race was then put under the red flag for just over 41 minutes, with Bowyer first and his teammate Harvick in second.
Once the race finally got back green again, Bowyer and Harvick pulled away in first and second. After around 25 laps, Harvick wrestled the lead away from his teammate.
The remainder of the race went on caution-free. Harvick finished with a large lead over his teammate Bowyer in second place. The top five was rounded out by Daniel Suarez third, Truex fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.
Harvick’s win marked his fourth of the season and fifth overall for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR). The SHR cars were all strong once again. Three of the four finished in the top five: Harvick, Bowyer and Kurt Busch, while Aric Almirola finished in 11th.
Featured image from NASCAR.com
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