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Dover Cup: Bowman, Larson lead a four-car Hendrick rout

Dover, DE, May 16/21 (by John Davidson): Alex Bowman headed a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the top four finishers in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway. Following the No. 48 home was Kyle Larson in the No. 5, with Chase Elliott third and William Byron fourth. This win was Bowman's second win in 2021 and his fourth career win. Bowman's victory raised Chevrolet's tally for the year to four wins and 799 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series since the series started.

Joey Logano's fifth place was the first non-Chevy, non-Hendrick finish, trailed by Kevin Harvick and then Denny Hamlin in the first Toyota home.

For most of the race, Larson was dominant, taking the lead at the competition caution on lap 38 of race’s 400 laps and effectively leading every lap from then until Bowman beat him out of the pits on lap 304 during the race’s fifth caution. Technically, Larson was not credited with leading every one of those laps, during cautions #2, #3, and #4 anther car (Hamlin twice and then Bowman) are shown as leading a single lap. But this is an artifact of pit stall selection, the pit stalls of Hamlin and Bowman were located after the start/finish line in pit lane so they were able to complete this in lap (and get credit for leading Larson) before they stopped at their pit stall.

The critical move came during the fifth caution when his crew’s fastest-of-the-season pit stop enabled Bowman to beat Larson out of the pits and take the restart in the front row. Larson kept charging behind Bowman but, despite there being another two cautions with restarts, Larson could never manage to get back past his teammate and he had to settle for a second-place finish. Both Bowman and Larson deserve commendation for running a remarkable race and helping set up the four-car Hendrick finish.

PHOTO NCS DOVER BACK TO TRACKA sizable crowd of spectators was on hand at Dover (James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Seven cautions slowed the race for 41 laps, with only three of those yellows for incidents. The first Stage end coincided with debris on the track and another late race caution on lap 326 came about due to more debris. Three incidents brought out cautions, involving Josh Berryhill on lap 172, Aric Almirola's car was the only crash victim unable to continue after his mishap on lap 302, followed just a few laps later by the sole multi-car incident with the yellow flying on lap 315 for a crash involving Brad Keselowski, Anthony Alfredo and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. but all three drivers finished the race.

"I think straight up the 5 was a little bit better than us," said Bowman in post-race interviews. "I knew that track position was key. Clean air was tough today, tougher than previous races here I feel like a little bit.

"I just felt like if I could keep the bottom closed off, it would pretty hard for him to get to me. If he did get to me, he would have to wear stuff out pretty bad.

"My pit crew I feel like won the race getting us off pit road there first. Man, just really cool to get to race Kyle, have such a great day for Hendrick Motorsports."

Kyle Larson commented that: "their team (No. 48 Chevy) just did a really good job on that pit stop and gained control of the race. I never really had a shot after that. That one restart, I got to his bumper and got him loose, but the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was coming so we just had to let each other go."

All three of NASCAR’s national series will debut at the Circuit of The Americas next week in Austin, Texas.

• Click HERE for the Race Results

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