DOVER, Del. — A timely caution helped hand Brad Keselowski the opening stage win of Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover Int’l Speedway.
Keselowski was in position to capitalize when a caution interrupted green flag pit stops on lap 87, using swift pit work to beat Kyle Busch off pit road and leading the final 31 laps of the stage en route to his fifth stage win of the year.
The Michigan native credited his crew chief and pit crew for being able to bank a playoff point towards the championship.
“I think Paul and the pit crew earned that with strategy and solid stops,” said Keselowski. “We have a little bit of speed and all in all I think we’re about a top-five car here, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. It’s good to get that stage bonus because you don’t know when you’re going to need it and we’re glad to have it.”
Truex took off to the early lead from the pole, with Kyle Larson quietly moving up to second by the 16th round as he looked to end the dominance of the Toyota contingent.
Larson would make his move for the top spot 10 laps later, surging around Truex using the high groove and taking off as the frontrunners began to work slower traffic. He opened up a one-second lead by lap 50, as Truex slowly began to fade into the clutches of a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt started seventh but was running third by the halfway point of the first stage, while Truex found some steam and retook the point from Larson at lap 61 while Larson was mired in traffic on the bottom of the concrete oval.
That allowed Kevin Harvick to move around Larson for the runner-up spot, closing in on Truex as green-flag pit stops approached. The cycle began at lap 84, but was interrupted on the 87th round when Jeffrey Earnhardt spun into the sand barrels at the pit entrance off Turn 4.
A caution flew with only five cars on the lead lap who had not yet pitted: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Danica Patrick and David Ragan.
Following a 15 minute red flag period, the leaders came down pit road, with Keselowski edging out Busch on the set of yellow flag stops and setting sail to a .575 of a second margin at the green-checkered flag.
Busch crossed the line second, ahead of Truex, who used a wave-around to get back on the lead lap and cross third.
Stenhouse and Patrick followed in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Ragan and Denny Hamlin completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10 at the stage break.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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