Engine woes, bad pit strategy and on track incidents were the death for several of the Chase racers this weekend at Dover International Speedway. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick both suffered engine failures; Kasey Kahne got tangled with reigning Champ Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth ran out of gas on the last lap.
When all was said and done after 400 laps at the Monster Mile, race winner Jeff Burton took a hold of the points lead by six points.
1. Jeff Burton (Race Winner, 5,351 points): Burton ended his winless streak of 175 races after a fierce battle with Matt Kenseth was won by the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The win puts Burton into the point lead by six markers with eight races left in the Chase.
"We have positioned ourselves to have something special happen, but just because we're in this position doesn't mean something special is going to happen," said Burton. "Eight races is an eternity."
2. Jeff Gordon (Finished 3rd, -6): Four-time Cup series champion Gordon moves to second in points after a third place result at Dover. He led just one lap and started the race from the pole.
"It got kind of crazy out there with guys getting in and out of sync and then running out of fuel. So we're pretty fortunate to come home third," Gordon said. "That's what it takes to be up there in this Chase and running for this championship. Kenseth had the car to beat and (Burton) was tough there in the end as well. We've still got a little bit more work to do, but we've got some really good tracks coming up."
3. Matt Kenseth (Finished 10th, -18): Kenseth led a race high 215-laps but was forced to limp to the finish after running out of gas on the last lap. Kenseth remains third in points.
"We had a good car," explained Kenseth. "We had older tires than everybody for some reason and that last set didn't like my car as much. We had a couple problems with the car. I messed up in the pit box and I was pretty pumped up that we were able to come back and pass the whole field for the lead. I just don't understand what we did there at the end. We gambled for fuel, but there was really no reason to gamble because we had the best car. Even if we would have lost two or three spots, we had the car to beat so I don't understand how we can run out of fuel on the last lap."
4. Denny Hamlin (Finished 9th, -18): Denny Hamlin had a good car for Sunday's event at Dover but ailing health may have cost him a better finish. Hamlin, who is battling a cold, began feeling bad with a 150-laps to go. He slips to fourth in points, tied with Kenseth.
"With about 150 to go I lost all my neck strength and it went downhill from there. I just couldn't take anymore," commented Hamlin.
5. Kevin Harvick (Finished 32nd, -54): A blown engine ruined Harvick's day and slips him from first to fifth in points.
"You know these guys have done a great job to give me engines all season," he said. "It's the first one we've lost in a long time. We'll be fine. We blew up a little bit early," Harvick said. "These guys have done a great job getting the engines where they need to be [and this was the] first failure we have had in a long time. We will be fine [and] just keep racing."
6. Mark Martin (Finished 14th, -75): Martin got caught on pit road when a caution came out during a round of green flag pit stops. That put Martin a lap down and relegated him to a 14th place finish.
"We were a touch off, so when it happened we were not able to recover," Martin explained. "It would have taken us longer to recover than it would have if we had been just a little quicker. We were just a whisker off and we were gonna get away with that until we got a lap down on that pit sequence. That's two races where we ran better than we finished, but we haven't had a disastrous finish. If we can go to Talladega and not wreck, we'd make all of that back up."
7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Finished 21st, -102): Earnhardt had two blows at Dover that cost him making any ground in the Chase. He had a flat tire early in the race, and then he got caught a lap down after pitting under green and having the caution come out.
"We struggled a little bit," said Earnhardt. "We're lucky we finished 21st today. We had a flat tire and we made some real poor pit calls. Hopefully we'll do better in the next several weeks. We've been lucky to be only 100-some (points) behind, that's pretty fortunate right now."
8. Jimmie Johnson (Finished 13th, -136): Johnson wound up 13th on pure effort after getting off sequence in the pits. Johnson also got caught on pit road when a caution came out and had to work his way back to grab a top- 15 finish. He did make some ground after a disastrous start to the Chase moving up one spot.
"We just had an off day," Johnson described. "I mean, we had a good car. We just kept losing track position for a variety of different reasons. Unfortunately we had to pit out of sequence and got down a lap. We had a good car. I think track position was really important here. When we had track position, we would run up front and be strong. We had some problem in the pits and got caught behind, then had to stay out then stop on a green flag stop and the caution came out. That really got us behind, but the guys did a great job, worked really hard today, gave us a great race car. We just got out of sequence and it bit us. I hate it for us. It would have been a good day to capitalize on some things. We didn't lose a lot. But we missed a chance to gain some points."
9. Kasey Kahne (Finished 38th, -182): Kahne got tangled with Tony Stewart on lap 11 ending his chances of winning a championship this year. He spent 140 laps in the garage, finishing 38th and dropping to ninth in points.
"No more championship," said a deflated Kahne.
10. Kyle Busch (Finished 40th, -224): Kyle Busch's first Chase can be wrapped up by one sentence, "That's it we're done". Busch suffered an engine failure finishing 40th and dropping 224 points behind leader Burton after a 40 place result and his second mulligan of the Chase.
"In the motor somewhere," Busch explained. "It is really a shame. Obviously the car was running really strong today. We were one of the best cars out there, we drove from about 20th up to third there that one run and we were catching the leaders every lap. It is just a shame. The Hendrick Motorsports engine department has always been very, very strong. They have always had great horsepower. Today we must have a problem in the top-end. Nothing came out the bottom. We must have broke a valve."