Three Takeaways: Hendrick Motorsports dominates Dover with 1-2-3-4 finish
By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
DOVER, Del. – It is rare for Rick Hendrick to see his team do something that he hasn’t seen in his 38 years of Cup ownership.
But Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Hendrick saw his cars finish 1-2-3-4 in the Drydene 400 as Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron led the field to the checkered flag.
It marked only the fourth time in NASCAR history that one car owner swept the first four spots, the last time coming in 2005 when Roush Fenway Racing accomplished the feat.
Hendrick drivers led 382 of the 400 laps, including 361 of the final 363, as they earned the 267th win for Hendrick Motorsports – one fewer than the record of 268 held by Petty Enterprises.
"The feeling is unbelievable," Hendrick said. "It was probably the longest last 100 laps that I’ve ever seen a race because I kind of wanted to see it so bad.
"We were so close and to be able to pull that off, that is one of those things in racing that you would say is on your bucket list."
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Three takeaways from the Cup race at Dover:
1. Bowman stating the case for himself
With two victories in the first 13 races, Bowman increased his career total to four and continues to make the case that he deserves a long-term contract at Hendrick. It is coming.
Hendrick said re-signing Bowman to a multi-year extension is a formality.
"We’ve already started – it should be done any time," Hendrick said. "We want Alex there and he wants to be there and it’s just kind of at this point a formality."
Bowman, who is in his fourth full-time season at Hendrick, replaced fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. a few years ago and this year assumed the car number and sponsor of seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
The 28-year-old Bowman said he feels more confident in his future than he has in a long time as his career has been filled with one-year deals and uncertainty.
"Just being at Hendrick Motorsports is obviously where I want to be," Bowman said. "I want to continue to work with [sponsor] Ally and drive the 48 car. We’ve been working on it and I want to be there and they want me to drive their race car.
"It’s cool to have a guy like Rick Hendrick say he wants you to continue driving his race car. That means a lot to me."
2. Larson sees another potential win slip away
Bowman took the lead on a pit stop on Lap 305, a pit stop that was the fastest of any team’s stop this year. Larson couldn’t pass him, settling for second after having led 263 laps.
"I knew that track position was key and ... I just felt like if I could keep the bottom [lane] closed off, it would be pretty hard for him to get to me and if he did get to me, he’d have to wear his stuff out pretty bad," Bowman said.
"My pit crew won the race getting us off pit road first."
Larson swept the two opening stages and has won more stages (six) than any other driver this year. But he does have just one win.
"I feel like we maximized our day," Larson said. "We were all just so equal – any of the four of us could have been out in the lead and that person probably would have won. ... Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too.
"I’m not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn’t anything else that I could do."
3. Almirola hurting
Aric Almirola saw his day end early for the fifth time this year as a result of an accident. He sits 28th in the standings.
Almirola was released relatively quickly from the infield care center after this hard crash Sunday, but he certainly was feeling the effects of the season.
"That was another hard hit," Almirola said. "My body is hurting. It doesn’t want to take any more hard hits like that.
"It’s just such a trying year. I don’t know what exactly happened. I think something in the suspension broke."
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass.