AAA Drive for Autism 400 – Dover International Speedway

Dover International Speedway is nicknamed the Monster Mile for several reasons, the first and most obvious being that the track is a mile long. Then there’s the track mascot, which is, quite literally, a monster made from concrete.  And finally, the track is well known for tearing up tires and cars and spitting them out, which we saw plenty of during the AAA Driver for Autism 400 this Sunday.

The first stage felt as though it was end-to-end cautions for blown tires and single-car spins – 6 to be exact. But the drama didn’t end there. On Lap 18, when the field came down pit road, pole-sitter and then-leader Kyle Busch had issues when the rear lug nut gun became stuck in reverse as #18 pit crew were installing a new set of tires.  Instead of spinning the lug nuts tight, the left rear wheel was barely on the car when the jack dropped and the tire man was injured in the process.  Unaware of the situation, Busch pulled out of his stall and made a pace lap around the track where the loose wheel fell off and caused damage to the right rear quarter panel of the car. Despite the upset, he was able to finish in 16th place, 1 lap down.

Also in Stage 1, Kurt Busch got loose on the third restart. While trying to save his car from spinning, he collected Brad Keselowski who was trying to avoid him. Keselowski went to the garage and never returned to the race. Kurt Busch returned after repairing the damage, but blew a tire a handful of laps later and crunched the rear of his car. He was then removed from the race. At the same time, something broke in Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 causing him to leak oil onto the track. Since the problem wasn’t due to crash damage, Bowyer was allowed to go the garage, make repairs, and return to the race 18 laps down.

Martin Truex Jr went on to the win Stage 1.  Stage 2, which was far less chaotic and lengthy, also went to Truex who seamlessly dominated the segment.

With 4 laps to go in the race, Kyle Larson was leading and Jimmie Johnson‘s shot at catching him looked incredibly slim. But a late race caution came out when David Ragan was sent into the wall onTurn 2, causing the race to go into overtime and casting Johnson’s chances in a new light. Johnson cleared the restart and was able to get past the overtime line before the caution flew for a 10-car wreck that began with Ty Dillon. Racing hard to gain position, Dillon got loose and hit the speedy-dry that was placed on the track after David Ragan hit the wall. Dillon hit Ryan Newman and collected Kasey Kahne, Erik Jones, Cole Whitt, Trevor Bayne, and others

Jimmie Johnson had started the race at the back of the pack after a change to a rear gear. He drove through the field and went on to win for the 11th time at Dover International Speedway and for the 83rd time in his 17-year career. This win tied him with his racing hero and NASCAR legend, Cale Yarborough.

Some notable mentions in the Top 10 include Chase Elliott who started this season strong but recently hit a slump with back to back DNF’s. He was able to overcome a pit-road penalty early in the race and was in the fifth position as the checkered flag waved. Also, rookie Daniel Suarez deserves mention for racing within the Top 10 all day and finishing in sixth place. Lastly, Danica Patrick, who has been plagued with bad luck and a serious wreck only a few weeks ago at Kansas, rallied back and crossed the finish line tenth.

Catch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono Raceway next week for the Axalta Pocono 400. Get your tickets HERE!

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