The Monster Energy Cup Series‘ Round of 12 began with Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway. By the checkered flag, Kyle Larson was in Victory Lane for the first time in two years.
Denny Hamlin started on the pole the second time in 2019, with Larson qualifying second. Of the twelve playoff drivers, six occupied the top three rows, while Kyle Busch was the lowest-qualifying contender in eighteenth.
Stages #1 and 2
Before the green flag, Joey Logano‘s race quickly took a turn when he suffered from a broken axle, forcing him to the garage. Shortly after the race began, more problems plagued the field as Reed Sorenson and Chase Elliott also experienced mechanical failures, the latter producing a caution after just four laps.
Logano returned to the race on lap 24 as Hamlin continued to lead until green-flag stops on lap 76. During their stops, Aric Almirola, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Ryan Newman received speeding penalties.
Hamlin cycled back into the lead after stops ended and went on to take the stage win. Behind him were Martin Truex Jr., Larson, William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Busch, Erik Jones, and Ryan Blaney.
Stage #2 went green the entire way as Hamlin dominated much of the segment. On lap 229, Truex took the lead and held on for the stage win. Larson passed Hamlin for second on lap 232. Behind the three were Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Bowman, Jones, Blaney, Brad Keselowski, and Clint Bowyer.
The final stage commenced on lap 249 with Larson leading. After 21 laps, Hamlin began reporting engine problems but continued on.
On lap 296, Blaney pitted after losing his brakes before retiring from the race. 11 laps later, Truex took second from Hamlin.
With 82 laps left in the race, green-flag stops opened, with Paul Menard inheriting the lead when Larson pitted. Meanwhile, Jones was penalised for speeding. Larson regained the top spot after the pit cycle ended.
Larson continued his stage domination en route to his first victory since the fall Richmond Raceway event in 2017.
On Twitter, Larson’s team owner Chip Ganassi tweeted:
“That’s as good as I’ve ever been around the bottom here. Just a great combination here,” Larson said in a post-race interview with NBCSN. “Good to be fast in practice and to be good again in the race and get the win.”