Kyle Larson ends 75-race winless streak with Dover victory

Kyle Larson’s more than two year victory drought in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is finally over.

Kyle Larson ends 75-race winless streak with Dover victory
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Larson deftly managed lapped traffic and held off Martin Truex Jr. to win Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway – snapping a 75-race winless streak.

Larson’s most recent win came Sept. 9, 2017 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. With the win – the sixth of his career – he automatically advances to the semifinal round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes in the next two races.

"This was a really critical win," Larson said after the race. "Everybody in this playoff deal is going to be stressing next week at Talladega except for me, so that's good. I could still end up on my lid next week but it's not going to matter after this win.

"What a day. This car was really good. After the first stage, I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like we made the car better at the same time. It really benefited on long runs and that's about as good as I've ever been cutting the bottom around here.

"Just a great combination here. Good to be fast in practice and then be good enough in the race and get the win. I've always wanted to win a Cup race here and I've been close a number of times."

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Asked if he thought it was the biggest win of his career, Larson said, "Well, the million dollars earlier this year (he won the All-Star Race) was pretty nice but to my first playoff victory is special. I hope there's another one in our future, especially in the next round.

"I kept saying I've felt really close to winning. Our pit crew has been doing a better job, I've been doing a better job. We just need to keep it going now."

 

Alex Bowman finished third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Denny Hamlin – who thought he had an engine blowing up at one point – ended up fifth.

Rounding out the top-10 were Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.

Only eight cars finished on the lead lap in a race that featured only three cautions (two for stage breaks).

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Larson the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 249, Larson was followed by Hamlin, Harvick, Erik Jones, Bowman and Truex (who had a slow stop).

With 130 laps remaining in the race, Larson had moved out to a more than 3-second lead over Hamlin. Jones ran third, Harvick fourth and Truex had moved into fifth.

On Lap 272, Hamlin radioed into his crew that his No. 11 Toyota may be “blowing up” or “a miss” in the engine.

Eight laps later and still running second in the race, Hamlin was told by his team that his “straightaway speed still looks fine” and to “settle in.”

Truex got around Jones on Lap 288 to move into the third spot behind Larson and Hamlin.

Ryan Blaney pit under green on Lap 299 after complaining over his team radio that he had no brakes. After a quick examination by his team on pit road, Blaney drove his No. 12 Ford to the garage for repairs.

 

On Lap 307, Truex got around Hamlin and moved into the second position, just over 4 seconds behind Larson.

With 80 laps to go, several lead-lap cars began their final round of green-flag pit stops to get new tires and enough fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

Jones was penalized for speeding on pit road during his stop and was forced to make a pass-through penalty.

On Lap 329, Paul Menard was the last car to pit, turning the lead back over to Larson. He held a more than 5-second advantage over Truex with Hamlin in third.

With 50 laps remaining, Larson’s advantage over Truex held steady at 5.7 seconds as Bowman moved into the third position. Hamlin was fourth and Harvick fifth.

After 360 laps, Truex had closed to within 2 seconds as Larson had difficulty navigating lapped traffic.

With 30 laps to go in the race, Larson’s lead had stabilized at about 3 seconds over Truex. Bowman was third, 8 seconds behind the leader.

Larson’s end over Truex remained at 4 seconds with 15 laps remaining. Without a caution, Larson appeared to be on his way to ending his more than two-year winless streak in the Cup Series.

Landon Cassill fell off the pace with eight laps to go after running out of fuel but was able to reach pit road without a caution.

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Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Laps Led
1 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 400   154
2 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 400 1.578 15
3 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 400 8.568  
4 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 400 9.017  
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 400 15.848 218
6 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 400 22.202  
7 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 400 22.895  
8 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 400 23.908 1
9 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 399 1 lap 3
10 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 399 1 lap  
11 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 399 1 lap  
12 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 398 2 laps 6
13 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 398 2 laps 1
14 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 398 2 laps 1
15 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 398 2 laps  
16 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 398 2 laps  
17 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 398 2 laps  
18 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 398 2 laps  
19 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 396 4 laps  
20 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 395 5 laps  
21 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 394 6 laps  
22 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 393 7 laps  
23 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 393 7 laps 1
24 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 391 9 laps  
25 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 390 10 laps  
26 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 389 11 laps  
27 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 388 12 laps  
28 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 385 15 laps  
29 51 United States B.J. McLeod  Ford 382 18 laps  
30 27 United States Joe Nemechek  Chevrolet 381 19 laps  
31 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 380 20 laps  
32 52 United States J.J. Yeley  Ford 380 20 laps  
33 54 United States Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 377 23 laps  
34 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 375 25 laps  
35 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 297 103 laps  
36 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 232 168 laps  
37 77 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 180 220 laps  
38 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 8 392 laps  

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Truex takes advantage of slower traffic, wins Stage 2 at Dover
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Truex takes advantage of slower traffic, wins Stage 2 at Dover

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