On Sunday, NASCAR visited Dover International Speedway for the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. The first half of the race lived up to Dover’s nickname of “the Monster Mile” while the second half slowed down as the drivers settled in.
To the excitement of country music fans and most ladies, Luke Bryan gave the command for drivers to start their engines. However, he had special help from one lucky fan, who was one of the many kids who is helped by the organization Autism Speaks.
Soon, the race began and although Brad Keselowski was the pole sitter for the race, he was quickly overtaken by Kyle Busch, winner of the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races earlier in the race. Busch remained strong for the first 81 laps and looked to be a strong contender for the win. And on lap 29, he earned the milestone of 10,000 laps led in his career, becoming the 15th driver in NASCAR history to do so. Unfortunately, however, his day ended early when he was knocked into the wall by Clint Bowyer on lap 125, which brought out the caution.
On lap 134, the race got messier when AJ Allmendinger tapped Ricky Stenhouse Jr, which triggered more contact between Stenhouse Jr and teammate Greg Biffle. Also getting caught up in the incident were Landon Cassill, Justin Allgaier, and Ryan Truex. Instead of just having a caution period to clean up the incident, though, the red flag was waved and the race was halted in order to remove debris from the accident area. The race finally went back to green on lap 141 with Kevin Harvick taking the lead. Harvick’s contention for the win eventually ended early when he developed a flat tire and was two laps down after repairs.
Unfortunately, though, the green flag period didn’t last long. On lap 160, pothole in the track was discovered on track when a large piece of concrete from the race course was dislodged and flung into the front of Jamie McMurray’s car. The race was red flagged again for repairs to the track and frustratingly, Jamie McMurray was stuck with a broken car for half an hour as the rules state that cars cannot be worked on during red flag periods.
The race went back to green, and the halfway point saw six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the lead as well as the drivers settling in for the second half of the race. The action picked back up starting on lap 320, when both Austin Dillon and Josh Wise were penalized for entering the pits too fast. A few laps later, Danica Patrick received a penalty for both entering and exiting the pits too fast. Then, with 9 laps to go, the final caution of the day came out when Casey Mears developed a flat tire.
Jimmie Johnson went on to win the race, with Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five. This was his ninth win at Dover, with his last win at Dover coming in last year’s September race. It was also his second win in a row, becoming his 13th time winning back-to-back races.