Martin Truex Jr. schooled the field, again, Sunday. Truex led a race high 187 of the 400 laps and left only six car on the lead lap in route to his fourth win of the 2016 season with a victory in the Citizen Soldier 400. While Truex celebrated, four drivers were eliminated from the 2016 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup field. Here’s how is all went down Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Due to rain on Friday, points leader Brad Keselowski led the field to the green on the inside. Martin Truex Jr. was on the inside in second, followed by Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five starters.
Friday’s rainout meant all 16 Chase drivers started in the front, with four facing elimination.
Keselowski had a large lead by turn 1, Truex slipped into second, Kyle Busch had third. Kenseth was fourth, Kevin Harvick fifth.
Truex stayed close to Keselowski and grabbed the lead at the start of lap 6. Harvick took fourth on lap 7.
Kyle Busch took second easily on lap 12. He was soon working his way forward and looking for the lead.
Truex began lapping the field on lap 16. Busch caught Truex and took the lead on lap 20 on the high side. Harvick was third by lap 25.
Because of rain the day prior, NASCAR had called for a competition caution around lap 40; Harvick’s Chevy began smoking on lap 33 however and the first caution of the day came out with NASCAR ruling it the competition caution. Harvick headed straight to the garage with a broken track bar mount.
The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch was out first, Keselowski second followed by Truex, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.
Kyle Larson had an issue with a loss of power; he was forced to get pushed to the pits and lost a lap.
The green came back out on lap 40.Busch took the lead with Truex close behind; Keselowski and Kenseth fought for third with Kenseth eventually getting the spot; Logano was fifth. Larson was penalized for having too many men over the wall, and forced back in for a pass through; he reentered the field three laps down 39th.
Johnson was fifth by lap 60; moved to fourth a few laps later. Soon Logano was looking for fifth from his teammate Keselowski. In heavy traffic, Logano took fifth on lap 75. Johnson went to third on lap 77. Harvick returned to the track on the same lap after repairs.
Up front, the lead was only half a second for Busch over Truex. In lapped traffic, Truex re-took the lead on lap 82, but Busch stayed close and snatched it back a lap later. Truex was soon looking again for the top spot. Busch put Chase driver Chris Buescher a lap down on lap 89.
By lap 98 Busch was able to stretch out his lead to just over a half a second.
At lap 100 the top five: Kyle Busch, Truex, Johnson, Kenseth, Logano. There were 19 cars on the lead lap.
Caution two came out on lap 104 when Ryan Blaney hit the wall exiting turn 2. He was able to limp to pit road. The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch was out first, Johnson second, followed by Truex, Kenseth and Logano.
Green came back out on lap 111 with Busch on the inside, Johnson on the outside. Busch had the lead by turn 1, Truex slid into second, Johnson third, Logano was fourth, Denny Hamlin had fifth.
Truex retook the lead on lap 125; Johnson took second from Busch on lap 128. Logano got by Busch for third on lap 146. The lead up front was nearing two seconds.
Jamie McMurray, the second Chip Ganassi Racing car trying to avoid Chase elimination, reported possible engine issues and began slowing on lap 170. As he slowed, he fell below the Chase cutoff spot, and Austin Dillon has raced his way forward enough to avoid elimination.
Caution 3 waved on lap 182 when Larson lost a right front tire and hit the wall entering turn 1. As Larson pitted, teammate McMurray pitted behind him and the hood went up. The leaders all pitted behind. Truex was out first followed b Johnson, Logano, Kyle Busch and Hamlin. McMurray reported that he still had engine issues.
The green came out on lap 189. Johnson and Truex made contact with Johnson taking the lead on the outside by turn 3. Kyle Busch was third, Keselowski fourth and Logano fifth.
McMurray blew up on lap 193 exiting turn 4 and caution four waved. The Chase was over for McMurray. The leaders having just pitted, stayed out.
The restart came on lap 199 with Johnson rocketing to the lead; Keselowski took second but Truex had the spot by the end of the lap. Keselowski settled into third, Kyle Busch was fourth, Kenseth fifth.
Kyle Busch went to third on lap 209. Up front, Truex was starting to make up ground on Johnson.
By lap 234 however, Johnson had stretched out his lead to just over a second; Truex was still second, Kyle Busch third, followed by Keselowski and Kenseth. The attention fell to Dillon who was inside the top 10 and holding on to the final transfer spot.
Tony Stewart, the first driver outside the Chase cutoff, was lapped by Johnson on lap 270; there were 12 cars on the lead lap.
Green flag stops began on lap 276 with several cars just outside the top 5, with Chase Elliott and Kenseth pitting. Dillon, Johnson and Kyle Busch were among those who pitted on lap 279. Johnson had a slow stop when a crewmember slipped carrying a tire. NASCAR also penalized the Johnson crew for going over the wall too soon; he was given a pass through penalty. He served that penalty on lap 282 and rejoined the field 16th one lap down.
When the stops cycled through by lap 300, Truex was in the lead by eight seconds, Kyle Busch was second, Keselowski was third, Elliott fourth and Kenseth fifth. By lap 306, Johnson had worked his way up to 11th and was the first car a lap down.
However, Truex was on the move and lapped the ninth place car of Denny Hamlin on lap 320. Truex had a lead of just over 6 seconds. He passed Jeff Gordon in 8th on lap 327. Truex got by Dillon in seventh on lap 333. Johnson had rallied back to 10th by lap 341. The lead for Truex was just over 9 seconds. Johnson was eighth by lap 354.
Truex lapped Logano in on lap 356; Logano dove in the pits as green flag stops got underway. There were five cars on the lead lap as Truex was out front by just over 11 seconds. Stewart and Dillon pitted on lap 359.
Truex pitted from the lead on lap 364 followed by Kyle Busch. Gordon and Edwards stayed out hoping for a caution; he pitted on lap 374, Edwards followed. The stops had cycled through and Truex was back in the lead by 9 seconds over Kyle Busch. Elliott was third, Keselowski was fourth, Kenseth fifth; there were six cars on the lead lap.
With 10 to go, Johnson, in seventh, was trying to un-lap himself. Truex maintained a 9-second lead.
Johnson was still trying to un-lap himself with five laps to go. There were still just six cars on the lead lap.
There was no drama on the final lap as Truex cruised to his fourth win of the season and his second in the first round of the Chase. Kyle Busch was second, Elliott third, Keselowski fourth and Kenseth fifth. The full results can be found here.
Logano was the last car on the lead lap is sixth, followed by Johnson, Dillon, Hamlin and Gordon rounding out the top 10. Tony Stewart (13), Chris Buescher (23) Kyle Larson (25), and Jamie McMurray (40) all failed to advance to the next round of the Chase.
The first race in the Round of 12 will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Bank of America 500 will be run this coming Saturday night October 8, with the green flag coming just after 7:00 p.m. and live coverage on NBC.