Matt Kenseth had just enough to hold off youngsters Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott on Sunday, winning the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
It was the first victory of the season for Kenseth, who has been plagued by bad luck in several races before coming to Dover. Larson, 23, and rookie Elliott, 20, were looking for their first career victories. Larson led a race-high 85 laps, dueling with Martin Truex Jr. earlier in the race.
The race was marred by several accidents, including an 18-car wreck on the front stretch during a restart on Lap 354 when Jimmie Johnson’s gears locked up. Kenseth, who was starting on the inside front row with Johnson, avoided the accident and led the final 47 laps after the race was red-flagged for 11 minutes, 22-seconds.
“I got fortunate with some of the good cars that were in that accident,” said Kenseth. “I thought Kyle was going to get right by me, because I was really loose.”
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Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Kenseth avoided an 18-car accident, caused when Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy slowed after its gears locked up. Starting at the front on the final restart, Kenseth held off Larson and Elliott over the final 47 laps to win.
Three who mattered
Matt Kenseth: His most recent victory came at New Hampshire last September. It had been a while.
Kyle Larson: He’s still looking for his first career victory, but raced hard against Elliott and Kenseth, and, earlier Martin Truex Jr.
Jimmie Johnson: Might have been in position to win, starting at the front on a late restart – until gears locked up and caused an 18-car melee.
▪ Tony Stewart’s day ended on Lap 342 when the track bar broke on his No. 14 Chevy, poking a hole in his oil tank and causing a mess on the track. Stewart finished 34th, the same spot in which he started. The weekend didn’t start well for Stewart, either. He wrecked in practice Friday and had to use a backup car Sunday.
▪ Larson was involved in another wreck that affected the outcome. He tagged Carl Edwards – who was running second at the time – on the backstretch of Lap 360, turning Edwards into the wall. Edwards, who was running second at the time, called Larson an “idiot” on the radio afterward, but later said it appeared the wreck was a result of hard racing.
▪ Johnson couldn’t believe it when his gear shift stuck, slowing his car and causing the big wreck. He said his gear shift was stuck in neutral as he tried to move it from first to second gear. “Then I tried fourth and third and fourth and eventually I got hit from behind,” Johnson said. “There was a long pause there where I was trying ... I thought maybe I missed a shift; but it wouldn’t go in gear.”
They said it
“I was trying to do all I could do to get by him without getting into him.” – Larson, on racing Kenseth at the end.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race:
Sprint All-Star Race
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord.
When: 7 p.m., Saturday.
TV: Fox Sports 1.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.