NASCAR & Auto Racing

Race rewind | Team orders? Didn't see any at Dover

Rewinding Sunday's Cup race at Dover International Speedway:

REAR-VIEW MIRROR/David Poole

Team order? Cone on

Is there anybody who still believes there's such a thing as team orders in NASCAR? There's no way three Roush Fenway Racing drivers who battled for Sunday's victory could have raced each other any harder, no matter who they race for.

What does he really think?

Kyle Busch After finishing last and falling 210 points behind Carl Edwards in the Chase standings, Kyle Busch declared himself done.

"We're out of the title hunt," he said. He might very well be, but if that's truly what he thinks after he's had a little while to get over the initial frustration, then he's absolutely done.

Once it got rolling ...

It was almost like the drivers waited until the outcome of the Ryder Cup was determined to flip the switch and go to work.

This will be remembered as heck of a race and it absolutely was for the final 45 laps or so. Until then? Not so much.

But when you get a finish like this one, that's really all anyone ever remembers.

HOW THE CHASE DRIVERS FARED

No. 1 Carl Edwards

On the final pit stop, Edwards wanted four tires, but his team elected to go with two. He still managed to compete for the victory, but one wonders. With four new tires like teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, would he have been more of a factor in the win? He ended up third.

"There couldn't be a better third - we're leading the points, my teammates finishing in front of me and having a good race like that. That was a lot of fun," he said.

No. 2 Jimmie Johnson (-10)

Johnson was a little disappointed with his fifth-place finish but said he knew Roush Fenway Racing cars would be difficult to beat at Dover.

"It is just two of 10 and we have eight more to go. Consistency might not get it done this year, you just never know," Johnson said, "especially with the type of racing we have seen the last few weeks. I think the fans are getting what they paid for."

No. 3 Greg Biffle (tie)

Biffle said he drove a "perfect race" on Sunday but could have done a better job of setting up his car for the race, which would have allowed him to get off to a stronger start.

"I've been working hard to be as prepared as possible going into race day. I wish we could have been a little bit better on Saturday (during practice). I think we could have been even better in the race," Biffle said.

No. 4 Jeff Burton (-82)

Oddly enough, all three Richard Childress Racing drivers find themselves lined up together in the Chase standings, with Burton - who finished ninth Sunday - leading the way.

"We're only 20 percent into the Chase and anything can happen, but you can believe that we're going to continue to keep digging," he said.

No. 5 Kevin Harvick (-101)

Harvick is contending for the consistency award of the season, posting his eighth consecutive top-10 finish on Sunday. He finished sixth after starting 20th.

"It is good to start off (with top 10s) but we still need to take another step," said Harvick's crew chief, Todd Berrier. "We need to win a race. If you can run 10th every race, you can win a race. You have to crawl before you walk."

No. 6 Clint Bowyer (-106)

Bowyer was solid but not spectacular at Dover, finishing eighth, and was trying to run down Jeff Gordon for seventh as the race ended. He heads to his home track of Kansas, where he is still looking for his first NASCAR win.

No. 7 Tony Stewart (-113)

Stewart's 11th-place finish was the best for Joe Gibbs Racing Sunday, but it also marked the first time all season at least one JGR team did not finish in the top 10 in a race.

"Honestly, once you got past the part about your car sliding around, it was kind of fun the way the track moved around as much as it did," Stewart said. "We never could hit the balance spot-on."

No. 8 Jeff Gordon (-118)

Although he started from the pole and never dropped out of the top 10 except on green-flag pit stops, Gordon didn't feel as if he and his team were able to make considerable improvements during the race.

"We were good, just not quite good enough," said Gordon, who finished seventh. "We'll go back to the drawing board and keep working at it. It was a good weekend for us points-wise and for performance."

No. 9 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-129)

A blown right-rear tire caused serious damage to Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet and he was forced to make several trips to pit road for repairs. He finished 24th and dropped five positions in the standings.

No. 10 Matt Kenseth (-167)

Kenseth knew there would be at least two unhappy Roush Fenway drivers at the end of the race with three racing for the win in the final laps. Kenseth's four tires on his final pit stop helped him run down Edwards, who took two. Biffle eventually passed them both to win the race.

"These things are hard to win, so at least with me anyway, there's no such thing as taking it easy and getting yourself out of position," he said. "You're going to race as hard as your car will let you go."

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (-193)

Hamlin appeared to have a car capable of getting a good finish, but was forced to spend several laps in the garage to replace a broken drive shaft. He ended up 38th, 38 laps down and dropped to the bottom of the Chase standings, joining Busch, his JGR teammate.

No. 12 Kyle Busch (-210)

For the second consecutive race, Busch - who entered the Chase as the points leader - had a terrible day.

This time, a blown engine relegated him to a 43rd-place finish and left him in a large hole from which to climb out if has any hope of making a challenge for the title.

PIT STOPS

Mark Martin, who finished fourth, was the only non-Chase driver in the top five and ran with the race leaders all day. His car was best on long runs, but he couldn't catch them at race's end. "We gave it our heart and soul, but we just weren't up to a short-run challenge," he said.

Michael Waltrip finished 10th, only his second top-10 finish of the season. He was second in the June race at New Hampshire.

KEY MOMENTS

Lap 141

Dale Earnhardt Jr. blows a tire and brings out a yellow about the time Kyle Busch's car begins smoking. Busch goes to the garage and does not return, finishing last and Earnhardt Jr. limps home three laps down in 24th, markedly dimming their title hopes.

Lap 268

Carl Edwards takes just two tires on a pit stop, and in the ensuing run his No. 99 Ford does quite well against his competitors who changed four. That plants the seed for a late-race strategy that winds up being pivotal.

Lap 302

Greg Biffle goes high coming through Turn 4 to make a dramatic pass for the lead in his No. 16 Ford. He sweeps by Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards with the move and discovers just how good his car is on the outside. That will be big later on.

Lap 350

Juan Pablo Montoya's brush with the wall brings out the final yellow and sets up a last round of pit stops. Edwards goes for two tires again, while Biffle and Kenseth take four to set up what becomes a stirring three-way battle late in the race for the victory.

Lap 393

Biffle completes the pass on Kenseth, squeezing by on the outside as Kenseth does all he can to give him no more room that absolutely necessary. Biffle's Ford shows a bit of tire smoke from a fender rub, but he's still able to bring home his second straight win.

NEXT RACE

Camping World RV 400

Where: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

TV: ABC.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

Last year's winner: Greg Biffle.

  Comments