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Kenseth out-thinks Johnson and Edwards to claim win

"I just locked up the rear brakes a little bit coming into the pits during that green flag stop," Ragan said later. "That's the first time I've ever wrecked like that getting on pit road. And I'm usually the conservative one, but I guess I pushed it a little too hard today."

Tony Stewart also had problems with not getting a full load of gas - the gas can never connected with the fuel hook-up, and he had to return to pit road on lap 116. It was a miscue that put him three laps down in 35th position, and it would get even worse as Smoke was also complaining of terrible balance on the #14: "I'm loose as **** now," he yelled over the radio before his enforced return to the pits; Darian Grubb, his crew chief, could only respond with "Sorry buddy, I went too far." The car's handling never came together and Stewart finished unusually far down the running order, six laps off the lead by the end.

Johnson remained strong in the lead while Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose fought an extended battle over second place ahead of Allmendinger and Kenseth breaking into the top five by ejecting Keselowski and Harvick by lap 136. But Johnson's long run in the lead was about to come to an end, and on lap 144 it was Carl Edwards who finally did the deed and took over control of the race.

Sadly, AJ Allmendinger's strong run was about to come up to a premature end. He'd been struggling on and off ever since he'd picked up a severe vibration just before the previous round of pit stops, and then found the handling off after them. Now, as the race passed 160 laps, it was clear that his engine was terminally unwell and started to smoke.

At just this moment, drops of rain started to splatter themselves on the drivers' windows: the clouds that had threatened for so long had finally decided to show up at the party and the race went under yellow to see how long and how bad this would be. The leaders pitted, but AJ's crew got him to stay out an extra lap before coming in just so that he would be able to claim a point for leading. When they brought him in, however, it was clear that the race was done for the #43.

"It was weird because it all happened at once and there was no sign of it," he explained afterwards. "We were running the leaders down. The track had gotten really slick. It was fun and you had to work really hard on finding the right line. It showed what drivers had to do. We were going to run them down and all of a sudden off of two it went. It was getting steadily worse."

The shower was mercifully brief and racing got back underway less than ten minutes later on lap 170, with Jimmie Johnson having won the lead back in the pits, followed by Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick. Johnson's lead this time was short-lived, Edwards once again the man to take it away from him on lap 190.

Martin Truex Jr. was determined to mark his 200th Sprint Cup series start with a good run and surged his way past Kenseth into the top three and was posting the fastest laps of anyone as the race passed the scheduled middle distance - the point at which the race also became "official" should the rain return and trigger a red flag.

At the back of the top ten, Kyle Busch was now ninth while Brad Keselowski and a now much-happier Clint Bowyer were battling over tenth itself. Busch lost places on lap 202 when he nearly slammed into the wall in turn 2 but somehow managed to save the car from disaster and carry on going.

Only 47 laps had passed under green before the fourth caution of the afternoon, this time for debris in turn 3. Everyone came in for pit stops, Edwards retaining the lead as Johnson suffered a poor stop some 2s slower than Edwards and Ambrose which also put him behind Kenseth and down to fourth, almost his worst position of the entire afternoon. When the race resumed, the cars settled in for another lengthy green flag stint - some 109 laps now passed until the next hiatus, and the main problem for everyone was the increasingly hazardous build-up of rubber that was making for some difficult and wildly inconsistent handling around the one-mile oval, forcing the drivers to work hard to find new and different grooves that would work for them.




Related Pictures

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AJ Allmendinger`s day ends early as engine trouble forces him out of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Picture Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Matt Kenseth and the #17 Roush Fenway Racing team in Sunoco Victory Lane on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Picture Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and current points leader Carl Edwards side by side on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Picture Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Matt Kenseth claims the 20th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series checkered flag of his career on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Picture Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images.]
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and his daughter Elladee take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ParkerStore Chevrolet, poses with the Keystone Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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