Event: Citizen Soldier 400 (Round 29 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Start/Finish: 24th/28th (Running, completed 393 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 23rd (547 points)
Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) scored a 28th-place finish in Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Patrick started the race from the 24th position in a field set by owner points after qualifying was cancelled due to rain on Friday. She lost ground on the start and dropped as low as 34th early in the event as she struggled with the car’s handling. Crew chief Billy Scott called for adjustments on the team’s first pit stop under the lap-34 caution. Patrick continued to have significant handling issues on the following run, so he called for wholesale changes, including packer, wedge and air pressure adjustments, when the team pitted under caution again at lap 107.
The changes seemed to improve the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet’s handling, as Patrick radioed to the team at lap 124 that the car was “better.” The team continued to work on the car throughout the race, and at the event’s midpoint Patrick was scored in the 29th position, four laps down to the leader.
Scott called Patrick to pit road for a green-flag stop for fuel, tires and a wedge adjustment at lap 293. Once the field cycled through green-flag stops, the team was scored in the 30th spot, seven laps down to the leader. In the final segment of the race, Scott had Patrick conserve fuel in an effort to make it to the end without pitting again. She was able to make it to the checkered flag on fuel and pick up two spots to finish 28th.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Brownie/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Dover by finishing 13th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 15th.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 37th after a broken track bar mount put him behind the wall early in the race. Harvick returned to the race and finished, albeit 46 laps down.
Stewart, Busch and Harvick came into Dover as members of the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Dover, however, served as an elimination race, with the four lowest Chase drivers not advancing to the Round of 12.
Harvick moved on to the Round of 12 care of his win Sept. 25 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Busch earned his way into the Round of 12 as his point tally during the Round of 16 put him solidly among the top-12. Stewart just missed advancing into the Round of 12, as he fell 11 points short of breaking into the top-12. Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher were the three other Chase drivers who also failed to advance.
Joining Harvick and Busch in the Round of 12 are Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Austin Dillon. All had their respective point tallies reset to 3,000.
Three more races will be run with the next cutoff coming after the Oct. 23 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, whereupon the Chase field shrinks to eight for the Round of 8. Another three races will be run after that, where after the Nov. 13 race at Phoenix International Raceway, only four drivers will advance to the final, winner-take-all Championship Round Nov. 20 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Truex won the Citizen Soldier 400 to score his seventh career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Dover.
Kyle Busch finished 7.527 seconds behind Truex in the runner-up spot, while Elliott, Keselowski and Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Logano, Johnson, Dillon, Hamlin and Jeff Gordon comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 22 laps with two drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race around the 1-mile, concrete oval.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fourth race of the Chase – is the Oct. 8 Bank of America 500 400 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!