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Kyle Larson locks into Round of 8, wins at Dover

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Kyle Larson heads to the Start / Finish line to celebrate winning the Drydene 400 at Dover international Speedway on October 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE.

DOVER, Del. ⁠— Kyle Larson snapped a 75 race winless streak in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Larson held off a late race charge from Martin Truex, Jr. while navigating through lapped traffic in the final stint of the event to take the checkers at the “Monster Mile”.

“To win a Playoff race, my first Playoff victory, is special,” Larson said. “I hope there’s another one in our future, especially in the next round. So, we’ll see what we can do.

“I kept saying that I felt really close to winning here, or anywhere, right now. Our pit crew has been doing a better job and the team is doing a better job and I’ve been doing a better job. We just got to keep it going now.”

Now a lock into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff Round of 8 for the first time in his career, Larson will look to add to his playoff point total in the next two races at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway.

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CHAMPIONSHIP-LICATIONS FOR TEAM PENSKE

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Joey Logano makes laps around Dover International Speedway on October 6th, 2019, after missing the start of the race due to a suspension issue found during pace laps. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE.

Joey Logano didn’t even get to take the green flag on Sunday afternoon, as he sat in the garage fixing an axle issue that occurred on the warm up laps.

Logano wound up finishing 25 laps down at the end of the day, but it didn’t come without any more controversy.

At the end of Stage 2, Logano held his ground while leaders such as Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson, and Kevin Harvick battled for the coveted playoff point.

Logano was unapologetic after the race. “The situation was that I had about four or five cars that it was possible for me to catch, which is five points,” Logano said. “You tell me if it is worth it. I would say it is worth it and I have to go.

“I have to try to get those spots if I can get them. If some of those cars that were that slow out there and were going to be 20-something laps down, the pace we were running we were going to be within a lap or two of them. I had to race hard. I had to keep going.”

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Denny Hamlin led a race-high 218 laps in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 6th, 2019. Hamlin lost the lead with twelve laps to go in Stage 2 and never got back to the top spot. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE.

Hamlin, who was the leader at the time, was pretty upset over the matter.

“I thought the 22 (Joey Logano) was trying to stay on the lead lap, but they said he was 24 laps down and so he was kind of air blocking us and we lost the lead, and we lost that stage,” Hamlin said. “Then after that we lost control of the race and the track got tighter. There were no cautions to pick up the rubber. We just got tight.

Logano did gain two positions after the controversy, and two more points toward advancing from the Round of 12, finishing in 34th. Logano is tied for the final transfer spot with William Byron. Byron owns the tie-breaker currently with his 13th place finish on Sunday.

Logano’s teammate, Ryan Blaney, was one of the drivers that was passed for one of those positions.

On lap 297, Blaney suffered a suspension issue, and despite the attempts to fix the issue, never returned to the race track. Blaney wound up 35th, and has a tougher road ahead towards advancing to the Round of 8, now 22 points below the cutoff.

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“HIGHEST OF HIGHS” TO “LOWEST OF LOWS” FOR ELLIOTT

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Chase Elliott didn’t get to run many laps on Sunday before his race went south. Elliott finished 38th in the Drydene 400 at Dover international Speedway on October 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE.

Fresh off his victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL, Chase Elliott was one of the favorites to win the Dover playoff race for the second consecutive year.

On lap eight, that all went up in a smoke-less cloud.

Diagnosed as an engine failure, Elliott retired from the event, and came home last. Now Elliott sits seven points below advancement.

“I just had an engine failure of some sort,” Elliott said. “Unfortunately, we don’t really know what it was just yet. It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure. It’s an unfortunate way to start this round for sure.”

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LARSON NOW A LOCK FOR HOMESTEAD? NOT QUITE YET

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Kyle Larson in the closing laps in the Drydene 400 at Dover international Speedway on October 6th, 2019. Photo by Justin Melillo / TRE.

Larson doesn’t think he’s a lock just yet for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he does believe this is his best shot at winning a championship at the top level of stock car racing.

With only 11 playoff points in his bucket, Larson still has a big deficit to close between competitors like Kyle Busch, with 46 playoff points, Martin Truex, Jr. with 42, and Denny Hamlin with 31.

Alex Bowman (5), Ryan Blaney (4), William Byron (1), and Clint Bowyer (0) are the only drivers left in the playoffs with less playoff points than Larson.

 

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The series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the second race of the Round of 12.

UNOFFICIAL DRYDENE 400 RESULTS

SOURCES:
racing-reference.info
Team Chevy
Ford Performance
Toyota Racing
NASCAR on NBC

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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