Larson Tames The Monster


Dover International Speedway was celebrating its 50th anniversary and its 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The Cup Series had a huge weekend and it was the start of the second round of the playoffs. Everyone wanted that gold “Miles the Monster” trophy, but only one driver would tame the wild beast. Kyle Larson broke his 75-race winless streak this past Sunday, and it is the first time Chip Ganassi Racing will move onto the “Round of 8” in the NASCAR playoffs.

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin had a great first stage by dominating and leading most of the laps. Hamlin won the first stage, but a hectic first stage had some playoff favorites having some issues. Joey Logano had an axle issue before the green flag even came out. That’s not how the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion wanted to start off the second round of the playoffs. Logano had to take it to the garage to fix the issue and salvage as many points as he could. The Charlotte Roval winner Chase Elliott had troubles as well. Elliott’s had engine had issues and he had to take it to the garage. They were trying to fix it quickly so Chase could salvage as many points as he could. All of these issues happened with less than ten laps into the race.

Stage two wasn’t as hectic as stage one, but Martin Truex Jr. would win the stage. Larson took the lead during the stage two break after the round of pit stops. Now the real race was on to see who would tame the monster. Hamlin had one of the strongest cars all day long but radioed in with 130 laps to go that he was worried about his engine. He was running the fastest of the top three while running in second, but with 60 laps to go Truex got around Hamlin. Plenty of lapped traffic put Truex in position to possibly pass Larson for the lead. Not once, but twice that traffic cut Larson’s lead from more than 5 seconds down to less than two seconds. 

Among the playoff drivers, Clint Bowyer had a great day and finished tenth ahead of the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski. William Byron had a good day with getting some valuable stage points and would end up finishing 13th. Some playoff drivers had a struggling day and it hurt their chances of making the next round of the playoffs. Ryan Blaney ran in the top ten pretty much all day but had to pit on lap 298 because of brake issues. Blaney would go to the garage and would finish 35th. Joey Logano, who had axle issues early, finished 24 laps down in 34th place. Chase Elliott, who had engine issues, would finish the day in 38th. Elliott, Logano, and Blaney will need a good race at Talladega if they want to keep their championship hopes alive. 

Kyle Larson would be the driver that would tame the monster and break his 75-race winless streak. He won with a 1.578-second lead over 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and the Dover spring race winner Martin Truex Jr. Larson’s friend and polestitter, Denny Hamlin, finished fifth after leading 218 laps. But Larson’s long game was just a bit better. It will be the first time Kyle Larson and Chip Ganassi racing will move onto the “Round of 8” and would have a shot at their first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Watch the second race of the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the 500 at Talladega Superspeedway this Sunday at 2:00 P.M. EST on NBC.

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