Truex dominates Dover; wins third race in last five
Busch, Elliott, Keselowski, Kenseth follow; Stewart eliminated
DOVER — Martin Truex Jr.’s dream season continued at Dover International Speedway Sunday by winning the Sprint Cup Series Citizen Soldier 400 in dominating fashion.
The win marks Truex’s third in five races and fourth overall this season. He started second and led 187 laps for his second career win at the Monster Mile. He took the checkered flag 7.527 seconds ahead of second place Kyle Busch. Chase Elliott scored his second consecutive third at Dover, pole-sitter Brad Keselowski came in fourth and spring Dover winner Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 5.
Truex, along with Kyle Busch, Elliott, Keselowski, Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Chase. Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher were eliminated from The Chase.
“What an awesome weekend for us,” said Truex, who won his first career race at Dover in 2007. “I talked about it in here the other day, that this track has always been special to me. I love this place.
“I’ve had a lot of heartbreaks since my first win here back in ‘07,” Truex added. “I’ve led a lot of laps. I’ve been in position to win multiple times, and it never seemed to work out for multiple reasons.
“Today, I’m just thankful to have a great team, to have been able to lead lap 400 and get back to victory lane at a track that’s so special to me,” Truex continued.
Truex started on the outside pole and took his first turn out front on the sixth lap by passing Keselowski. He would lead 15 laps before relinquishing the point to Kyle Busch, who led until the first caution at lap 35.
Kyle Busch maintained his lead after pit stops, and paced 69 laps until the second caution on lap 106. Once again the M&M’s crew got Kyle Busch off pit row in first during the caution.
He would lead for 18 more laps until Truex powered by the No. 18 car on lap 125. Truex would lead to the next caution on lap 183. During the run, 10time Dover winner Johnson continued to close on Truex.
The Furniture Row crew got Truex off pit row in first during the caution, but Johnson powered his way into the lead when the field went back to green on lap 189.
Johnson and Truex would pace the field, extending their lead over third to more than five seconds, but the two leaders stayed in contact during the green-flag run.
The complexion of the race changed when leaders pitted on lap 277 under green. Johnson was penalized when a crew member stepped off the pit wall too soon, which is a pass-through penalty. Johnson fell off the lead lap and Truex was in clear sailing from second place Kyle Busch.
With no cautions over the final 202 laps, Truex cruised to more than a 10-second lead over Kyle Busch before taking the victor y.
The only battle in the top 5 after halfway came between Elliott, Keselowski and Kenseth.
Elliott started ninth and ran inside the top 10 all race. He moved up to sixth at the halfway point, then drove by Kenseth for fifth. After Johnson’s penalty, Elliott moved into fourth and began catching Keseslowski. A fast stop by the 24 crew with about 50 laps to go got Elliott ahead of Keselowski for third.
Chip Ganassi drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray did not fare well in the first Chase elimination race.
Larson started 12th and moved into the top 10 before the race’s first caution. But after his first pit stop under the caution, his car lost power and had to pit again. When the green flag flew, Larson came out of the pits in front of leader Kyle Busch, but had to pit a third time, losing three laps.
His chances of advancing in The Chase all but ended on lap 183 when he slapped the wall. He finished 25th.
Larson’s teammate McMurray began experience engine trouble after about 150 laps. He dropped two cylinders, then his engine blew, ending his day in last place on lap 192.
The Sprint Cup Series begins the next round of The Chase Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Truex started on the pole in May’s Coca Cola 600 and lead 392 of 400 laps en route to his first victory of the season. Follow Caroline/ Dorchester Editor Dustin Holt on Twitter
Martin Truex Jr. does a burnout after winning the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway Sunday, Oct. 2.