Toyota driver Matt Kenseth held off determined Chevy driver Kyle Larson in the final moments of the AAA 400 Drive for Autism NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover Sunday, taking his first win of the 2016 season.
Kenseth led 48 of 400 laps Sunday, however it was Larson that proved more dominant throughout, leading 85 circuits of the 1-mile oval. Both drivers benefitted from a Lap 354 wreck that involved 18 cars and stopped the race for 11 minutes, with Kenseth leading the field to green upon the restart.
When racing got back underway on Lap 360, Larson got loose and made contact with Carl Edwards, sending the No. 19 Toyota driver into the wall. Racing resumed on Lap 366, with Kenseth again leading the field to green – this time lined up next to Larson. The Chevy driver attempted to catch the Toyota in the closing laps, however it was to no avail.
“I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once,” Larson told NASCAR.com post-race. “I didn’t want to do anything dirty. I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him.”
Rookie Chase Elliott followed Larson across the line in third to post the best finish of his Sprint Cup career. The No. 24 Chevrolet driver looked poised for an even higher finishing position after passing Larson for second in the closing laps, however he turned the position over after coming upon lapped traffic.
Pole sitter Kevin Harvick was another Chevy driver that looked in for a strong finishing position, however he fell through the running order after a series of early pit stops and turned up 15th. Jimmie Johnson, starting from 21st, moved through the field as the race went on but spun on Lap 212 before becoming entangled in the Lap 354 wreck.