Matt Kenseth holds off young guns to win at Dover
After a series of miscues and miscalculations kept him from winning while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates did this season, Matt Kenseth held off a furious duel with Kyle Larson to return to the Victory Lane Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
“We needed this one for sure,’’ Kenseth told FS1 in victory lane.
The victory is the seventh in 12 races this season for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth’s victory — the 37th of his career — means that all four JGR drivers have scored at least one Cup victory this season. Kenseth had been fast this season but saw his chances to win end in various ways, including losing the lead on the last lap of the Daytona 500.
Larson finished second with Chase Elliott a career-best third. It was the fourth career runner-up Cup finish for Larson, who continues to look for his first Cup victory.
Kenseth secured his third Dover win by holding off Larson in the final five laps as they dueled side-by-side. Kenseth was put in position for the win by taking two tires in the final pit stop. That came shortly before an 18-car crash on a restart eliminated some contenders with less than 50 laps to go.
HOW KENSETH WON: Experience and guile proved too much for youth and daring in his battle with Kyle Larson over the final 25 laps.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: While disappointed with not winning, Kyle Larson’s runner-up finish was third top-10 result of the season. Larson, who rallied from being a lap down early, led 85 laps. He led 115 laps all of last season. … Chase Elliott’s third-place finish was his fourth top-five finish of the season and eighth top-10 of the year, which is tops at Hendrick Motorsports. … Kasey Kahne’s fourth-place finish tied for his best result of the season.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Many did when Jimmie Johnson failed to get up to speed on a restart, triggering an 18-car crash while leading. … Johnson, who also spun in oil earlier in the race, finished 25th. … Martin Truex restarted outside of row 2 (fourth) with 46 laps to go but saw his chances of winning end in that incident started by Johnson. Truex, who finished ninth, continues to look for his first win of the season. … Carl Edwards was running near the front when contact with Kyle Larson sent Edwards head-on into the SAFER barrier along the inside backstretch wall to bring out the caution on Lap 361. Edwards finished 28th. … Kyle Busch struggled with his car’s handling before being collected in the 18-car crash and was 30th. … A mechanical failure left Tony Stewart with a 34th-place result.
NOTABLE: Kurt Busch’s fifth-place finish marked his series-high sixth consecutive top-10 finish. … Rookie Ryan Blaney placed eighth for his third consecutive top-10 finish.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “God!’’ Kyle Larson radioed his team after the race after failing to pass Matt Kenseth in the final laps and finishing second. “Man!’’
WHAT’S NEXT: The Sprint Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 21.