Alex Bowman leads a Hendrick parade at Dover

DOVER, DELAWARE - MAY 16: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, wins during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

For once, it wasn’t the fault of Kyle Larson that he swept the stages only to lose the race.  Sunday at Dover Larson led a race high 263 of the first 300 laps, but for the fifth time in his career had to settle for second after leading the most laps and sweeping the stages.

Instead, it was Alex Bowman celebrating in Victory Lane. Bowman took the lead from Larson on a round of pit stops with less than 100 laps to go and held off Larson leading a 1-4 finish for Hendrick Motorsports. Larson was second followed by Chase Elliott, and William Byron.

The dominance for the Hendrick team started near the mid-way part of the race when all 4 Hendrick cars were inside the top five. From there it was a matter if which of the Hendrick cars would come out on top. It turned out to be Bowman who scored the fourth win of his career and his second of 2021.

“We won Richmond (Raceway) and then had a really rough couple of weeks there,” Bowman said. “We went to some really good racetracks for us and struggled. I told the guys last week, ‘we’re still the same team that did it at Richmond’. This is another really good place for us. I’m just so pumped for Ally. It feels right to put the 48 back in victory lane here after how many races that this car has won here.”

Polesitter Martin Truex Jr. who was dominate in his win at Darlington a week prior, led the first 16 laps but after that it was all Larson.

Larson would win both stages and held the lead coming out of pit stops, until the races fifth of seven cautions on the day. That caution came out on lap 303 when Aric Almirola lost a tire and slammed the wall hard. Almiorla climbed from his car and had to be helped into the rescue vehicle but was later checked and cleared at the infield medical center.

During the ensuing pit stops, Bowman’s crew completed the fastest pit stop of the 2021 season and got Bowman out ahead of Larson. There would be two more cautions, but no pit stops for the leaders and Bowman was able to put the No. 48 back in victory lane at Dover for the first time since Jimmie Johnson’s last win in 2017. The second-place finisher that day, Kyle Larson.

“I just felt like all of us HMS guys were pretty equal, so I felt like whoever got out to the lead was going to be hard to beat,” Larson said. “Their team (No. 48 Chevy) just did a really good job on that pit stop and gained control of the race. I never really had a shot after that. That one restart, I got to his bumper and got him loose, but the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was coming so we just had to let each other go. Hard to be disappointed with a second, because like I said, I felt like I did everything I could. We led a lot of laps and won both Stages there, so it was good points, but we would have liked to be one spot better.”

Joey Logano, who had pitted during the sixth caution while the top five stayed out, charged through the field in the final laps on fresher tires, but came up short settling for fifth.

Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez and Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

The last time a team swept the top four spots was when Roush Racing accomplished the feat at Homestead in 2005.

“I can guarantee you this is the most nervous I’ve ever been in a race,” Rick Hendrick said. “Great day for the organization. And Alex, congratulations to him. This is a sign of the guys working together and bringing good stuff to the track.

“I don’t think it will hit me until tomorrow that we were able to finish one, two, three, four. That’s pretty hard to do, things can happen, pit stops, tires, anything. That’s a first and we’ll take it. It was a great day for us.”

Truex finished 19th one lap down.

NASCAR now heads to the Circuit of the Americas, its first visit to the 3.41-mile road course, next weekend.

DOVER, DELAWARE – MAY 16: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, celebrates his win during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Drydene 400

Dover International Speedway

Dover, Delaware

Sunday, May 16, 2021

  1. (16)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
  2. (4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
  3. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
  4. (3)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.
  5. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
  6. (5)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
  7. (2)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
  8. (12)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 400.
  9. (24)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 400.
  10. (30)  Cole Custer, Ford, 400.
  11. (22)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 400.
  12. (7)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.
  13. (28)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400.
  14. (14)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.
  15. (19)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 400.
  16. (15)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
  17. (10)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.
  18. (25)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 399.
  19. (1)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 399.
  20. (20)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 399.
  21. (11)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 396.
  22. (23)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 396.
  23. (13)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 396.
  24. (18)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 395.
  25. (21)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 395.
  26. (26)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 393.
  27. (6)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 393.
  28. (27)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 392.
  29. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 388.
  30. (29)  Josh Berry(i), Chevrolet, 388.
  31. (34)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 387.
  32. (36)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 383.
  33. (33)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 382.
  34. (37)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 381.
  35. (17)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 335.
  36. (31)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, Engine, 334.
  37. (32)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 300.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  120.05 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 19 Mins, 55 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.017 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. 1-15;W. Byron 16-36;M. Truex Jr. 37;K. Larson 38-122;D. Hamlin 123;K. Larson 124-172;D. Hamlin 173;K. Larson 174-243;A. Bowman 244;K. Larson 245-303;A. Bowman 304-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson 4 times for 263 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 98 laps; William Byron 1 time for 21 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 16 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,11,12,9,4,24,22,48,17,2

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,9,48,24,11,4,1,2,3,8

Greg Engle