Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway was one of the more eventful battles at the Monster Mile.
After some colossal collisions, especially late in Sunday’s race, veteran Matt Kenseth came away with his first victory of the season, taking his third checkered flag at the Monster Mile after outlasting Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott down the stretch.
Several cautions slowed things down on the track after lap 300, but the worst of the carnage left behind by the Monster Mile was yet to come. The transmission in Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy failed on the restart after a caution on lap 356. Johnson was never able to get going, bringing about a pile-up that involved 18 cars, taking many out of competition for the day.
AAA 400 Top 10
1. Matt Kenseth 2. Kyle Larson 3. Chase Elliott 4. Kasey Kahne 5. Kurt Busch 6. Brad Keselowski 7. Denny Hamlin 8. Ryan Blaney 9. Martin Truex Jr. 10. Trevor Bayne On the next restart, Kenseth emerged with Larson and Elliott following closely behind, in what amounted to a three-man race during the final laps.
With Larson gaining ground, he had to contend with a surging Elliott which allowed Kenseth some breathing room.
“I wasn’t very confident that I was going to be able to hold him off,” Kenseth said after the race. “Luckily, Chase caught him and got side-by-side and that gave me a little room.”
Larson came oh so close to his first-ever cup-series victory after leading for 85 laps on Sunday.
“I got close to [Kenseth’s] bumper a couple times, I may have even got into him once,” said Larson. “I didn’t want to do anything dirty, I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s, in my eyes, the cleanest racer out there, he always races with respect. I try to do the same.”
Kenseth’s victory Sunday broke a 17-race winless streak for the 44-year-old, a welcome sight after some bad luck this season for the No. 20 Toyota.
“It all worked out for us. Kind of the opposite, as I feel like it’s been going the last couple months,” said Kensth. “We’ve had really fast race cars; we’ve been in position to win a lot. This wasn’t our fastest car by any means, but we were able to be there at the end of the race and pull it off.”
The NASCAR schedule continues Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.