Veteran Matt Kenseth held off two young guns to win the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. Kenseth edged out 23-year-old Kyle Larson and 20-year-old Chase Elliott to claim his first victory of the season.
Finishing fourth was Kasey Kahne, while Kurt Busch claimed the fifth position. Many of the top drivers were taken out of contention by misfortune and a huge crash during the latter stages of the race.
As the field attempted to restart with only 46 laps remaining after a caution, Jimmie Johnson was unable to shift into high gear causing cars to pile up behind him. Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were among those caught up in the melee.
Kenseth took advantage of missing the Talladega-style pileup and took the lead. Despite numerous challenges from Larson, Kenseth never lost the lead and wound up in Victory Lane.
“Kyle gave me all I wanted and then some,” said Kenseth. “I kept digging the best I could and just tried to hold him off.”
Kenseth led 48 of the race’s 400 laps and Larson was in front for 85. Kevin Harvick led for a race-high 117 laps, but eventually finished in 15th place, one lap down.
Harvick maintained his Sprint Cup points lead with 418 points. The Busch brothers are second and third with Kyle earning 397 points and Kurt 386.
Kenseth’s victory automatically earned him a spot in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. For those not winning a race, the top 16 qualify for a spot in the Chase.
Elliott, who does not have a victory, is seventh in points. Larson, also without a victory needs one because he stands 21st in points.
The next series race is the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Next Saturday, the All-Star race will run at Charlotte.