Harvick Wins at Dover, His 4th Victory of the Year, 6th Win for Ford

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Photo Credit: Jerry Markland / Getty Images

Kyle Larson(42) won the pole for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism today at Dover International Speedway. Kevin Harvick(4) continued his hot streak posting the second fastest speed on the high-banked “Monster Mile.” The Fords of Rickey Stenhouse Jr.(17), Brad Keselowski(2), and Kurt Busch(41) qualified 5th, 8th, and 9th at a place that has not always been kind to the Blue Oval.

Pre-Race Issues

Larson’s car failed pre-race inspection 3 times. As a result his car-chief, David Bryant, was ejected from the race. In addition, Larson was forced to start from the rear of the field. Alex Bowman(88) and Austin Dillon(3) also received penalties and joined Larson at the back of the pack.

Photo Credit: Jessica Ruffin / NASCAR Digital Media

Harvick took the lead on the first lap. He led until pitting on lap 22 during a caution brought out by Corey LaJoie(72).  LaJoie blew an engine and retired to the garage just 20 laps into the event. Stages at Dover are 120 laps each, leaving 160 laps to complete the race to the checkered flag. Some drivers choose to stay on the track, putting the field out of sequence on pit stops.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

Early in the race pit strategy is constantly evolving. With stops at the end of the stages, the most important aspect of early stops is to stay on the lead lap and have a clean stop. Unfortunately for Larson, his pit crew suffered a mishap on a pit stop late in the stage. His crew allowed a tire removed from the car to get loose on pit road. The penalty for the infraction cost Larson dearly. Serving the penalty by driving down pit road at reduced speed, Larson returned to the track 2 laps down.

Harvick advanced to the lead late in the Stage. Then held on for the Stage Win and the 10 points that go with it. Kyle Busch(18) followed Harvick under the green and white checkered flag. Six Fords took points in Stage 1.

 Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
4 Harvick* 10
18 Kyle Busch 9
2 Keselowski* 8
19 Suarez 7
41 Kurt Busch* 6
9 Elliott 5
14 Bowyer* 4
48 Johnson 3
22 Logano * 2
12 Blaney* 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

Stage 2

Harvick and Keselowski started from the front row to begin Stage 2. With the #4 car taking the lead at the drop of the green flag. Of the 38 cars that started the race, 20 remained on the lead lap for the Stage 2 restart.

Derrick Cope(99) hit the outside wall on lap 152. He bounced off and made hard contact with the inside wall as his car slid down the banking of turn 4. Fortunately, the field avoided the incident and pits stops ensued during the caution period for the accident. Keselowski, first out of the pits, took the lead on the restart.

Four for Four Equals Four

Keselowski led for 46 laps until Harvick moved back to the front on lap 200. The fourth time Harvick held the top spot in the race. He held on to win the Stage, his fourth Stage sweep of the season.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
4 Harvick* 10
2 Keselowski* 9
18 Kyle Busch 8
48 Johnson 7
14 Bowyer* 6
19 Suarez 5
78 Truex 4
12 Blaney* 3
9 Elliott 2
22 Logano* 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

The Final Stage

Harvick continued his domination in the final Stage of the race. Kyle Busch complained about a vibration from the start of the race. With 130 laps to go, Busch’s driveshaft broke, leaving a section laying on the track. The resulting damage cracked open the differential and doused the track with axle grease. The DNF was the first of the year for Busch.

After the clean-up, the drivers took the greek flag with 119 to go. Stenhouse and Jamie McMurray(1) did not pit and restarted on the front row. Stenhouse opened a 2 second lead on the pack. McMurray faded quickly out of the top 5. Clint Bowyer(14), Logano, Martin Truex Jr.(78), and Harvick rounded out the top 5.

Rain

Not changing tires cost Stenhouse the lead. With 102 laps to go, Bowyer with his fresher tires passed him. Seven laps later, rain brought out the caution. With 80 laps to go, the red flag stopped the race. Bowyer told his crew to do the rain dance. Harvick hoped the race would go back to green. With the first two Stages complete, the race is official if the track gets drenched.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

Back to Racing

After the light rain shower, the track jet dryers quickly brought the racing surface back to dry conditions. The red flag totaled 49 minutes. Pit stops set up everyone for the dash to the finish. Back to green flag racing, Bowyer took the lead, but could not hold it long. Harvick drove around him with 62 laps to go and began to pull away.

The race remained green to the finish. Harvick won by a comfortable 7-second margin. His 4th victory of the year and the 5th for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. Ford led all but 27 of the 400 laps. Harvick led six times for a total of 201 laps. Stewart-Hass took 3 of the top 5 positions Harvick, Bowyer, and Kurt Busch. Their 4th car, Aric Almirola(10), finishing 11th.

Team Penske placed 6th, Keselowski, and 8th, Ryan Blaney(12). Giving Ford five of the top 10 finishing positions. Next week it’s on to Kansas Speedway for a Saturday night under the lights. The KC Masterpiece 400 takes the green shortly after 8:00 pm on Fox.

 

 

Results of the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 4 Kevin Harvick 400
2 14 Clint Bowyer 7.45 400
3 19 Daniel Suarez 9.722 400
4 78 Martin Truex Jr. 10.192 400
5 41 Kurt Busch 10.718 400
6 2 Brad Keselowski 11.375 400
7 11 Denny Hamlin 15.195 400
8 12 Ryan Blaney 16.336 400
9 48 Jimmie Johnson 17.138 400
10 42 Kyle Larson 17.934 400
11 10 Aric Almirola 18.178 400
12 9 Chase Elliott 22.766 400
13 22 Joey Logano 22.942 400
14 24 William Byron -1 399
15 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -1 399
16 1 Jamie McMurray -1 399
17 95 Kasey Kahne -1 399
18 20 Erik Jones -1 399
19 6 Trevor Bayne -2 398
20 37 Chris Buescher -2 398
21 47 AJ Allmendinger -3 397
22 34 Michael McDowell -3 397
23 88 Alex Bowman -3 397
24 13 Ty Dillon -4 396
25 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. -4 396
26 3 Austin Dillon -5 395
27 38 David Ragan -5 395
28 15 Ross Chastain -7 393
29 32 Matt DiBenedetto -8 392
30 23 Gray Gaulding -14 386
31 0 Landon Cassill -15 385
32 55 Reed Sorenson -18 382
33 31 Ryan Newman -23 377
34 21 Paul Menard -46 354
35 18 Kyle Busch -129 271
36 51 Cody Ware -156 244
37 99 Derrike Cope -255 145
38 72 Corey LaJoie -380 20

Points/Playoff Standings

Position Driver Points Wins
1 Kevin Harvick 406 4
2 Kyle Busch 449 3
3 Joey Logano 441 1
4 Clint Bowyer 370 1
5 Martin Truex Jr. 336 1
6 Austin Dillon 221 1
7 Kurt Busch 352 0
8 Brad Keselowski 348 0
9 Denny Hamlin 344 0
10 Ryan Blaney 342 0
11 Kyle Larson 307 0
12 Aric Almirola 304 0
13 Jimmie Johnson 258 0
14 Erik Jones 253 0
15 Alex Bowman 252 0
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 239 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Chase Elliott 234 0
18 William Byron 225 0
19 Daniel Suarez 222 0
20 Ryan Newman 218 0
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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines, a freelance technical writer, and a contributing author to a consortium that provides “how to” articles for eBay Buying Guides. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve on the Lasco Press with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.