Kyle Busch Passes Chase Elliott In Final Laps At Dover To Win 42nd Career Cup Series Raceby Hunter Thomas October 1, 2017 0 comments
DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott was on the verge of his first career victory until Kyle Busch passed him with just two laps to go to win the Apache Warrior 400 presented by Lucas Oil at Dover International Speedway.
Elliott looked as if he was going to cruise to his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, but after leading 59 consecutive laps, Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, was able to get the best of Elliott in heavy lapped traffic to take over the race lead in the closing two laps. The win is Busch’s 42nd career series win.
“Just we kept working on it all day long,” Busch said. “We kept making adjustments to it every pit stop, every chance we got and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a really, really good job of that and I think the biggest thing there at the end was just having a little bit fewer, fresher lap tires than Chase (Elliott) did and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough when I got close. I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it,’ you know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lap cars in front of him, so I think the lap cars actually helped us with that one, but overall just great day for us.”
Elliott, who although didn’t win the event, led a race high of 138 laps after being out in front of the field on three occasions. With the runner-up finish, Elliott will transfer to the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“It was all just lap traffic dependent.” Elliott said. “I thought if I had a clean track, I could have run as fast as he did, but I didn’t, and I should have done something different. So that’s just on me, and he did a better job than I did. At the end of the day that’s what it comes down to.”
Finishing third on Sunday was Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. The seven-time champion is an 11-time winner at the Monster Mile, but on Sunday, he only led five laps.
“The car was good we just kind of fought track position and I wish I had done a better job on Friday and got us up in that front three sooner,” Johnson said. “It was so tough to pass, I think whoever came off pit road or had control of a restart was really in the catbird seat. But, a great day for our Lowe’s Chevy. These banked tracks seem to suit us much better than a lot of the flat we saw during the summer. Usually, if you run well at Dover, you run well at Charlotte, so we are excited to go to next week as well.”
Playoff contenders, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson completed the top-five. Larson led 137 laps throughout the afternoon.
Rounding out the top-10 was Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daniel Suarez and Playoff contenders, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski.
Following the conclusion of the Apache Warrior 400 presented by Lucas Oil, four drivers were eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs. The drivers who will no longer compete for this year’s championship include Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kurt Busch.
Throughout the afternoon, there were only four cautions, and two were for the conclusions of Stages 1 and 2. The only accident of the race occurred on lap 88, when Jeffery Earnhardt spun out while trying to get to pit road. His car hit the barrels filled with sand at the entrance to pit road, which caused a 15-minute and 9-second red flag for cleanup.
Only 12 eligible drivers remain to compete for the championship. Truex Jr. currently leads the NASCAR Playoff point standings. He leads Busch by 18 points. Larson is third and trails by 25 points. Following Larson is Brad Keselowski (-39), Jimmie Johnson (-42), Kevin Harvick (-44), Denny Hamlin (-46), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-49), Ryan Blaney (-51), Chase Elliott (-53), Matt Kenseth (-54) and Jamie McMurray (-56).
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will kick off the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 8. The race that is usually a nighttime event will now be run underneath the sunlight. Live coverage of the Bank of America 500 will broadcast on NBC and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images