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NASCAR Sprint Cup: FedEx 400 Race Rewind

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Jun. 01, 2014

Next race

Pocono 400

Where: Pocono (Pa.) Racewa

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: TNT

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Jimmie Johnson

Kyle Busch denied sweep of Dover weekend

Kyle Busch’s shot at a sweep of Dover’s three races ended when he left the race after hitting the wall on Lap 126. Busch was forced into the wall by Clint Bowyer, whose spotter cleared Bowyer after apparently not seeing that Busch had not yet been cleared. Busch, who won Friday’s Truck race and Saturday’s Nationwide race, was trying to repeat his feat from 2010, when he won all three races at Bristol, the last time that’s happened in NASCAR.

Brett Griffin, Bowyer’s spotter, took the blame on Twitter: “Car good enough to win. Unfortunately today apparently I wasn’t. Cut it too close.”

Notebook

Pothole problems: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth, and had this take on the pothole at Dover, one of two concrete tracks – along with Bristol – on the circuit:

“Concrete has been losing the battle for preferred surface on a race track for 60 years. I don’t think they are going to start paving them all with concrete anytime soon. I would be a little nervous because there are so many joints and joists in this place. It’s a lottery on which one is going to come up next. If they repave it, I hope they put asphalt down and we would give the fans a hell of a show around here.”

Kenseth on the rise: Matt Kenseth finished third and took over the points lead from Jeff Gordon, who was 15th.

“It was good,” said Kenseth, who leads Gordon by two points. “I mean, I thought (Johnson) and (Kevin Harvick) had us all day. (Gordon) at times – all of the Hendrick (Motorsports) cars were strong and Brad (Keselowski) got up there at the end. We had a good top-five car. I did an awful job on that last restart. Just got spinning the tires too much and the best car won. We just need to be a little bit better.”

Can’t keep up: Keselowski started from the pole, dropped back for a while, then had a chance on the final restart. But he couldn’t hang with Johnson when it counted most and finished second.

“We had an up and down day,” said Keselowski. “We faded back pretty early, but made some adjustments. I thought we had a crack at Jimmie, but it wasn’t enough at the end.”


Observations

• There was no mention from NASCAR of any potential harm to spectators from the chunk of concrete that came loose from the track surface during the race. Parts of it flew up and hit the protective glass of a nearby pedestrian bridge above the track. There were no reports of any debris going into the stands, where there weren’t many spectators sitting.

• Eight days ago, the main story in Sprint Cup was: What’s wrong with Jimmie Johnson? Today it is: How can Johnson be stopped?

• Not sure where Dover got him, but it was a tough day for the guy who handled driver introductions. He pronounced Landon Cassill’s last name “Cuh-seal,” then, worse, referred to the driver of the No. 88 car as Dale Earnhardt Sr.


5 key moments

1. Pole winner Brad Keselowski immediately gives up first place to Kyle Busch, who leads for the next 80 laps. Keselowski, in the meantime, quickly drops back.

2. Jimmie Johnson takes the lead from Busch on Lap 82, the first of seven times and 272 laps he’ll lead.

3. Busch hits the wall on Lap 126, taking him out of the race and ending his chances of a sweep of Dover’s three weekend races.

4. On Lap 159, Ryan Newman causes a chunk of concrete to come loose from the track. After Jamie McMurray hits the chunk, the race is stopped for 22 minutes while workers repair the hole in the track.

5. A debris caution on Lap 394 (of 400) means Johnson will have to prove his superiority on restarts once again. Starting alongside Clint Bowyer, Johnson quickly re-establishes himself and holds off Keselowski over the final four laps.

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