Kenseth Wins Dover Wreckfest, But Larson, Elliott Show Their Chops

Kyle Larson comes so close to that first win

Alan Marler/Chevy Racing

Thanks to a late-race, 18-car pileup that took out most of the favorites, the winner in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was bound to be a first-timer for 2016, and almost was a first-timer, period.

It was Matt Kenseth, in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, who survived the melee, getting his 37th win, but more important, his first win of the year. Since the other three Gibbs Toyotas have won (Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin), Gibbs should have all four cars in the Chase for the Championship, where a win is a ticket in.

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Kenseth is the happiest man in Dover, Delaware.

In one of the better Cup races in recent memory, it wasn’t Kenseth but Kyle Larson who put on the best show, challenging Kenseth at the end, passing him several times but unable to hold onto the lead.

Larson, tabbed to be a major player since he entered Cup racing in 2013, has been winless in all 87 races now, but he nearly scored his first victory for Target Chip Ganassi today when, for some reason – even Larson wasn’t sure why – his number 42 Chevrolet just took off halfway through the 400-lap, 400-mile race. “Our day is coming,” said a disappointed Larson, but it can’t come soon enough.

Just as solid was Chase Elliott, who finished third behind Larson after a clean, multi-lap, side-by-side battle that showed how talented Bill Elliott’s son is. It doesn’t hurt that he’s driving the number 24 Hendrick Chevrolet he inherited from Jeff Gordon, but he’s still driving well beyond his experience level. Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.

Snake-bitten again was Martin Truex, Jr, driver of the number 78 Toyota from the one-car Furniture Row Racing team; he dominated much of the day, but was caught up in The Big One, when Jimmie Johnson was re-starting from the front row and suffered transmission problems that kept him from accelerating, and he was turned into traffic by Truex.

As for Kenseth: “I thought it was one of the greatest races ever here. Because I won.”

Kevin Harvick remains the points leader, as the series leaves the Monster Mile and heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two weeks, starting with the All-Star race next weekend.