Three big stories: Dover

Some things never change at the Monster Mile.

The NASCAR Cup Series entered mid-season form with 400 miles at Dover International Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports put on a statement drive with a 1-2-3-4 finish. Moreover, Alex Bowman takes next step of development with victory at Dover? Finally, Kyle Larson comes up short, after yet another dominant drive.

Without further adieu, let’s dive in.

Three big stories: Dover

A statement drive by Hendrick Motorsports

DOVER, Del. – MAY 16: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 NationsGuard Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

When one of your drivers takes the checkered flag, that’s a good day. When two of them finish first and second, that’s a great day. Three of them finishing on the podium is an excellent day.

All four drivers finishing 1-2-3-4? That’s an absolute statement.

Bowman, Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron completed just the fourth 1-2-3-4 finish by a single organization in NASCAR Cup Series history, and the first since Roush Fenway Racing did so at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2005.

And it wasn’t due to a late restart or late cautions. All but Elliott led 382 of the 400 laps, with Larson leading 263.

And all of this came at the Monster Mile. A track that’s probably one of the toughest, physically speaking, on drivers that NASCAR goes to.

It’s the kind of statement race that people look back on and realize it was the start of a run of excellence.

Three big stories: Dover

Alex Bowman takes next step of development?

DOVER, Del. – MAY 16: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

After Bowman won at Richmond, I pondered if it meant Bowman was on the verge of a breakout. Now, I still can’t say for certain.

Yes, he scored his second win of the season. Yes, he earned his first multi-win season. But the winning pass came not on track, but on pit road. Thanks his pit crew delivering the fastest pit stop of the season, Bowman exited pit road ahead of Larson under the fifth caution.

Take that out of the equation, I don’t think anybody beats Larson.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you win. Just that you did. With that said, however, I still can’t say for certain that Bowman’s a bonafide championship contender.

Of course, I can respect anyone who thinks he’s taken that next step now, and I’m open to having that conversation.

Three big stories: Dover

Kyle Larson comes up short, again

DOVER, Del. – MAY 16: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 NationsGuard Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Two-hundred and sixty-three.

That’s how many laps Larson led, Sunday, at Dover. It’s the sixth time in his Cup Series career that he’s led over 200 laps in a race.

And for the sixth time, he came up short.

I don’t know if that’s near or is a NASCAR record, but it’s amazing to see a generational talent like Larson come up short in so many races he’s dominated.

And for the second time this season.

What’s more, he didn’t make a mistake, Sunday. Bowman’s crew clocked-in a faster pit stop and got him out ahead.

Ultimately, he’s still a heavy championship favorite.

TOP IMAGE: Sean Gardner/Getty Images


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