Kyle Busch wins NASCAR Apache Warrior 400 on late-race charge

October 4, 2017

The Apache Warrior 400 fall race at Dover Oct. 1 appeared to be shaping up as the first career Monster Energy Series win for youngster Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, aka “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.” While that would have been a very popular win, Kyle Busch had other plans and set his sights on Elliott in the closing laps. Elliott had to deal with lapped traffic and cars trying to stay on the lead lap, and as he and Busch maneuvered their way through slower traffic, Busch was clearly gaining ground. The only question was whether he would run out of time. On Lap 399, Busch sailed by Elliott on the outside, exiting Turn 4 and taking the checkered flag in NASCAR’s first elimination race of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs.

Coming into the race after playoffs at Chicago and Loudon, cars on the bubble for the 12th and final transfer spot included Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch. McMurray finished ninth ahead of Newman in 13th, Kahne in 14th, Dillon in 16th, and Busch in 20th, advancing to the next round of NASCAR’s playoffs. Stenhouse finished 19th and also advanced to the Round of 12, edging out Newman.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. captured the pole on Friday for Sunday’s race with a top speed of 160.664 mph, turning a lap in 22.407 seconds. The pole was his 14th in 434 career starts, second of the year, and third at Dover. Kyle Busch joined Truex on the front row followed by Kyle Larson in third. Matt Kenseth and rookie Daniel Suarez rounded out the Top 5. In his last race at Dover, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified seventh and would finish seventh as well as running in the Top 10 most of the day.

Wyclef Jean made the call to fire up the engines as Sunday’s grand marshal. 

Lap 86 saw the caution flag fly for Jeffrey Earnhardt, who spun into the protective sand barrels at the entrance to pit road, bringing out the red flag. The cars lined up on the backstretch entering Turn 3 under the Monster Bridge as cleanup crews worked. The caution jumbled the lineup a little, occurring before the round of pit stops ended and Truex received the free pass.

Racing resumed on Lap 91 with Brad Keselowski the new race leader. Danica Patrick was running fourth after the restart. Patrick debuted the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Fusion, Driving More Good Days for Breast Cancer Awareness. Patrick took advantage of the caution to run in the Top 5 and finished the day in 18th. Keselowski won Stage 1 followed by Busch, Truex, Stenhouse and Patrick. Matt Kenseth was penalized for entering pit road too fast.

Busch was the race leader for the restart and Larson overtook Busch on Lap 141. Elliott was advancing through the field and was up to fourth by Lap 162. The caution soon flew again and the leaders headed to pit road. Green flag racing resumed on Lap 175 with Truex and Larson leading, and Larson grabbing the top spot. At the halfway point, Larson led Truex and Elliott with 40 laps remaining in Stage 2. Lap 219 saw Harvick make an unscheduled stop for a vibration, falling 2 laps back. By Lap 228, 11-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson moved up to fifth and would remain a force in the Top 5 the rest of the day, finishing third. Harvick regained a lap prior to the end of Stage 2, and Larson captured the green-and-white checkered flag signifying the stage win.

The race off pit road to start the third and final stage was won by Larson followed by Elliott. Top bubble drivers were McMurray (ninth), Kahne (13th) and Newman (16th). On Lap 247, leader Larson had electronic issues and fell back in the starting order, handing the lead to Elliott. On Lap 250, Elliott led Truex, Johnson, Busch and Earnhardt. On Lap 257, Stenhouse held only a 3-point lead over Newman and was in 20th, five spots behind Newman.

On Lap 299, Busch flexed some muscle, passing Johnson for third with Truex and Elliott in his sights. Earnhardt rounded out the Top 5 with 100 laps to go. Lap 319 started the final round of green flag stops with Kahne diving to pit road first. Leaders Elliott and Truex followed on Lap 325, setting the stage for the last green flag run. Lap 332 saw Busch violate the commitment line rule and receive a penalty, dampening his hopes for a good finish. By Lap 345, the green flag stops cycled through, returning Elliott atop the leaderboard with a 4.6-second lead over Truex.

By Lap 353, Busch overtook Truex for second and the question was, did he have the car and enough time to chase down Elliott. With 25 laps to go, Stenhouse held a 2-point lead over Newman for the 12th and final transfer spot. Elliott did not work through slower traffic as well as Busch, and the lead was trimmed to 1.6 seconds in the waning laps. With 10 laps to go, the lead closed to 0.5 seconds and the stage was set for a dramatic finish between the youngster and the veteran champion. As the two raced to the finish, on Lap 399 Busch swept past on the outside and took the win over Elliott.

Leading the points heading into the next round of playoffs, the Top 5 are Truex, Busch, Larson, Keselowski, and Johnson. NASCAR heads to its home track in Charlotte Oct. 6-8 for the first of three races in the Round of 12. Busch, Truex and Larson have been the strongest competition all season and appear poised to continue their respective runs for the championship.

Xfinity Series - Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200
Monster Energy Series regular Ryan Blaney captured Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, besting Justin Allgaier and Willam Byron. Byron was the race leader after Stage 1 followed by Blaney and Daniel Suarez. Blaney won Stage 2 followed by Byron and Allgaier. Blaney took the lead for good on Lap 124 and cruised to victory leading a race-high 136 of the 200 laps. There were only five caution flags and four lead changes among three drivers. Allgaier leaves Dover as the series points leader followed by Byron, Elliott Sadler, Cole Custer, and Daniel Hemric, with only 17 points separating the Top 5.

K & N Pro Series East National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 presented by Carl Deputy & Sons Builders
The K & N Pro Series - East held its season finale on Friday. Two former NASCAR drivers’ sons battled for the series crown. Harris Burton, son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, took advantage of points leader Todd Gilliland’s misfortune when a tire went down, sending the points leader into the wall. Gilliland is the son of NASCAR veteran David Gilliland. Burton seized the opportunity to grab the race win and series title, becoming the youngest driver to capture a NASCAR championship, at age 16.