He has at least overhauled the two Roush Fenway drivers in the standings, with Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth both having dreadful starts to the Chase. That's despite their having had such consistent regular seasons that they both topped the championship standings in the weeks before the Chase cut-off.
Biffle was running in the top ten at Dover when an incorrectly-fitted right front wheel ended up putting him off the lead lap, meaning that he eventually finished in 16th place.
"[They] knew the right-front was loose and they came over and did the lefts anyway. I don't know why," said a clearly frustrated Biffle. "That cost us an extra lap on the race track ... That really takes us out of the title hunt," he added.
Kenseth's problem was his rear track bar, debris from which triggered the fourth caution of the day on lap 308; Kenseth's subsequent spin on lap 317 after the restart then brought out the final caution of the afternoon and put the perfect capper on what had already been a mediocre day. He's now the bottom of the Chase contenders in the points and 72pts adrift of the leader - his chances of winning the Cup title before departing Roush for Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season all but done.
"In two out of three Chase races something either fell off or broke, so obviously that's not good," said Kenseth. "Our performance hasn't been very good, either," he admitted.
"This is probably the worst we've run here for as long as I can remember," he continued. "We just really missed it. From the first lap on the track to the last lap on the track we were pretty much junk. Everybody is trying hard, but we just missed it."
It was cold comfort that their team mate Carl Edwards finished in fifth place, as last year's Cup runner-up didn't make it into the Chase this year.
"We didn't deserve to finish that far forward, but we had some lucky breaks and my guys did a good job on pit road," said Edwards, who had clearly got the good fortune so lacking for his team mates. "I feel bad for Matt and Greg."
With long green flag stints between the first three cautions for debris, it was hardly surprising that only six cars were not lapped on the one-mile oval over the course of over three hours of racing. Behind Keselowski, Gordon, Martin, Johnson and Edwards, the only other driver to finish on the lead lap at Dover was Martin Truex Jr. His Michael Waltrip Racing team mate Clint Bowyer ended up a lap down in ninth place behind Busch and Hamlin.
"What a crazy day - at the start of the race we were just terrible. I don't know what it was, whether it was the first set of tyres or what," said Truex, who had gone a lap down early on after being caught out by the first debris caution of the day, which had come out when drivers were in the middle of their pit stops on lap 69 courtesy of a blown tyre on JJ Yeley's car.