With the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup behind us, we move ahead to "The Monster Mile" in Dover, where anything can happen in the blink of an eye.
Jeff Gordon got his championship hopes back on track by starting from the pole position at Dover. Mark Martin also had an impressive run by qualifying in the second position, just one-tenth of a second behind Gordon for the pole.
After the green flag waved to start the race, the caution quickly followed when Kurt Busch hit the wall hard in turn one on lap 2. Busch was turned around after David Gilliland moved up the track into him after getting loose.
Another caution flag waved about 10 laps later for an incident involving Patrick Carpentier and Carl Edwards. Carpentier spun out after getting loose off turn two, collecting Edwards, who had no place to go. Edwards would only suffer minor damage and went on to have a pretty good afternoon.
The race would stay green for awhile with Gordon as the leader. Gordon would soon be challenged for the lead by Jamie McMurray, who eventually made the pass on lap 31 for the lead.
McMurray would end up leading the race up to lap 65, when the caution flag came out for Joe Nemechek cutting a right front tire in turn three. The leaders would make their first pit stops of the day under the caution with Matt Kenseth coming off pit road as the leader.
Kenseth would lead the race through a long green flag run that was eventually put to a halt when Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun out after having a tire go down on lap 143.
The leaders were just about to make green flag pit stops before the caution came out so they all came down pit road with Kenseth holding the lead after pit stops.
Before the caution came out for Earnhardt’s spin, Kyle Busch reported to his crew that he was losing his engine. Sure enough, about 30 laps later, smoke began billowing out from under the car, sending Busch behind the wall. Busch would not be able to get back on track, causing him to finish back in the 43rd position.
After the eighth caution flag waved over the field for a spin by Sam Hornish on lap 186, the race went green for about a 100-lap period. During this time, Jimmie Johnson led a good portion before making a pit stop, which handed the lead over to Carl Edwards on lap 240. Johnson was on a different pit schedule than Edwards. Johnson had to pit 30 laps earlier for fuel because he stayed out under a caution to gain track position.
Edwards gave up the lead on lap 267 to make a pit stop, handing the lead over to Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, who each led a lap before making their pit stops.
Before pit stops began, bad luck struck another contender for the championship. Denny Hamlin went behind the wall after losing the rear-end in his car. Hamlin’s crew would make repairs, getting Denny back out on track to make laps and finish in the best possible position that he could. Hamlin would go on to finish in the 38th position, severely crippling his championship aspirations.
Johnson would take over the top spot after the round of pit stops cycled through. The long green flag run would come to an end, though, as debris brought out the caution for the ninth time in the race. The leaders would pit again, with Johnson holding the lead after pit stops.
Johnson took the restart as the leader, but the lead would soon change hands as Greg Biffle passed Johnson on lap 301 to lead his first laps of the day. Biffle would lead about 20 laps before Edwards mounted a charge to regain the lead on lap 323.
Edwards continued to lead the race when the tenth and final caution flag of the race waved for Juan Pablo Montoya cutting down a tire and pounding the wall on lap 350. The leaders would come down pit road for the last time with Edwards holding the lead thanks to a two-tire stop.
This would set up a battle for the ages with Edwards trying to hold the lead ahead of teammates Biffle and Kenseth, who each had four fresh tires.
Edwards gave it his all to hold off Kenseth and Biffle, but his tires proved to be the downfall. Kenseth finally made the pass for the lead with 23 laps remaining. Kenseth’s focus was now on Biffle, who had been breathing down his neck since the restart. Kenseth and Biffle would battle for a number of laps, which allowed Edwards to reel them back in and battle for the lead once more. Biffle, after laps of trying, finally got his nose to the outside of Kenseth off turn two, forcing Kenseth to give him room.
After making slight contact, Biffle finally moved around Kenseth for the lead with under 10 laps remaining. Biffle would then set sail on his teammates en route to his second straight victory. Biffle has started the Chase out the best way anyone possibly can. He has earned his first two victories of the season in the best time possible, during the Chase.
The top ten finishers were Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards, Martin, Johnson, Harvick, Gordon, Bowyer, Burton, and Michael Waltrip. Some notable finishes include Tony Stewart in 11th, Bobby Labonte in 14th, and Earnhardt Jr. in 24th position.
The point standings after the second Chase Race at Dover are as follows:
- Carl Edwards
- Jimmie Johnson
- Greg Biffle
- Jeff Burton
- Kevin Harvick
- Clint Bowyer
- Tony Stewart
- Jeff Gordon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
With Dover now in the history books, we can all look ahead to Kansas, where the Chase for the Championship could take another unsuspected turn.