Sunday, May 15, 2016

Monster Mile seems more like Talladega as Kenseth gets his first season win

Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
By Carol D’Agostino

Today's race at the Monster Mile felt more like Talladega after a dramatic day filled with 12 cautions. The most eventful wreck came at Lap 356 when race leader Jimmie Johnson's car slowed due to a gear issue, starting a chain-reaction accident involving 18 cars. A perennial favorite at Dover International Speedway, Johnson returned to the race and finished 25th.

The accident left Kyle Larson, and Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott, battling with Matt Kenseth for the win. All three drivers started the 2016 with what can be best described as a lot of “almosts,” setting up the closing laps as a real nail-biter.

Larson and Kenseth competed hard, but in the end Kenseth brought the No. 20 into Victory Lane.

“We had a good car today," Kenseth said. "I thought we were competitive, and there were a few guys at different parts of the race that were a little bit better. Kyle (Larson) gave me all I wanted at the end, and then some. We were fortunate to be able to hold him off."

Kenseth’s win is the 135th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for Joe Gibbs Racing, tying the organization with Rousch Fenway Racing for the third-most wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

This is Kenseth’s 37th victory in the Cup Series, and his fourth top-10 finish in 2016. It's also his third victory and 23rd top-10 finish in 35 races at Dover International Speedway.

Larson finished 188 seconds behind Kenseth at the checkered flag, for his fourth top 10 and best finish of the 2016 season.

Although Larson was hungry for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win he was determined to race Kenseth cleanly.

“I was trying to do all I could do to get by him (Kenseth) without getting into him,” said Larson. “I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once. I didn't want to do anything dirty. I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He's definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him,” Larson said.

Rounding out the top 10 were Chase Elliott in third, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Trevor Bayne in 10th.

The next points race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs


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