‘Twas a tale of two races today at Dover International Speedway for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with a pair of Sprint Cup veterans at the center of it all.
Pole sitter Joey Logano held the point for the first half of today’s 200-mile event. But on a round of yellow-flag stops just before halfway, Kyle Busch went to the front and held on to not only capture his fifth NNS victory of 2014, but a sweep of the NNS races this year at the “Monster Mile.”
Busch’s fifth career NNS win at Dover also helped him become the all-time leader in NNS triumphs at the track, too.
Meanwhile, Chase Elliott overcame damage from an early incident and rallied to finish third, pushing his NNS championship lead to 26 points over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith (finished eighth) with five races left.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher held steady for a fourth-place result, and Busch’s JGR teammate, Elliott Sadler, completed the Top 5. Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, Smith, Trevor Bayne, and Ty Dillon rounded out the Top 10.
The opening stint of the race featured two cautions for multi-car wrecks, but the second of those yellows looked to have a big impact.
On Lap 40, Tanner Berryhill and Kevin Swindell wrecked off of Turn 4 right in front of Elliott, who tagged the outside frontstretch wall and then got into the back of Swindell before driving away.
Under the caution, Elliott took right-side tires to take the lead off pit road but came back to have the damaged front end of his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet taped up.
Also occurring in that caution period was Larson leaving his pit box with a gas can and briefly dragging his gas man along for the ride. Said gas man was uninjured after tumbling to the ground, but Larson was hit with a pit road penalty.
Both Larson and Elliott took the Lap 47 restart outside the Top 20. Immediately, the two young phenoms charged toward the lead pack but while Larson’s run stalled around 11th place, Elliott kept going into the Top 5 by Lap 90.
“I was gonna give it my best shot, regardless of however the thing looked like,” Elliott said about driving back to the front. “I’m really, really proud and frustrated at the same time. I felt like we had a good car from the get-go and I made a mistake just following too close behind those guys off [Turn] 4.
“I saw it coming and I couldn’t get stopped fast enough…I got on the brakes and I couldn’t get it whoa’ed down. Just a big thanks to [crew chief] Greg [Ives] and all these guys for not giving up on me and getting this thing patched up the correct way where nothing else was gonna tear up and the body would fall apart.”
Logano stretched his lead, eventually pushing it past the five-second mark before a caution came out at Lap 97 for possible fluid on the track. That led to the second stop for the leaders and the critical lead change, as Busch’s crew was able to get their man out of the pits ahead of Logano.
At this point, it was Busch’s turn to dominate proceedings but a debris yellow with 53 laps left erased his advantage of several seconds. However, in the subsequent round of stops for the leaders under caution, Busch was able to maintain his spot at the front of the field over Logano, Elliott, Buescher, and Scott.
Logano tried to hang with Busch on the restart with 47 laps left, but Busch staved off the attack and then expanded his lead again. He ultimately took the checkered flag by a margin of 2.545 seconds.