It was a separation Sunday for NASCAR’s Chase at Dover

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 30, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 30, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The trouble came early and for many in the Chase at Dover Sunday.  An early caution during a round of green flag pit stops trapped many drivers in the Chase including Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaving only eight cars on the lead lap.   In the end only two of the Chase drivers caught up in that caution on lap 69, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon, were able to make it back onto the lead lap. The only Chase drivers finishing on the lead lap were race winner Denny Hamlin, Gordon in second Jimmie Johnson in fourth and Truex in sixth. For the rest of the Chase field, Sunday was a day they’d rather forget.

Entering the day the top five were separated by 15 points; when the dust settled at Dover Sunday the top three left with a 16 point separation.

Brad Keselowski along with crew chief Paul Wolfe are looking more and more like the team to beat. With masterful strategy Keselowski was able to stage a turnaround at Dover, where he had never finished better than 12th, and come away with his fifth win of the season and his second in the last three races. BK hovered around the top five all race long and began saving fuel 30 laps prior to everyone else.  And in the end while those around him pitted or coasted, Hamlin cruised to victory.

Jimmie Johnson certainly isn’t out of it.  He led a total of 43 laps on the day. At the end fuel mileage forced Johnson to give up the lead and slow, but with so many cars a lap down, he was able to coast to a fourth place finish and leaves Dover only five points out of first. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.