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Pit strategy pays off for Kenseth with Dover win

Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Matt Kenseth capitalized on a two-tire pit strategy during the final round of stops to win Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards dominated most of the race by combining for 324 of 400 laps led. But Johnson and Edwards took four tires each on their last stops, which ended up costing both drivers an opportunity to win. The pit stops occurred during a caution period with less than 40 laps remaining.

Mark Martin did not pit and led the way for the final restart with 34 laps to go. Martin had been running in the 14th spot prior to the caution.

Kenseth moved around Martin for the lead shortly after the restart and then ran in front for the final 32 laps around the one-mile, concrete surfaced track. Kenseth finished 2.1 seconds ahead of Martin for his second Sprint Cup Series win at Dover. He won here in June 2006.

"It was pretty exciting for me to be able to win here at Dover, especially the way we did it," Kenseth said. "It seems like we've lost more that way than people getting in front of us, then we won. Really turned out good. I was happy we were able to pull it off."

It was also Kenseth's second victory of the season and the 20th of his Cup career. He joins Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch as those repeat race winners in NASCAR's top-tier series so far this year.

Even though he currently sits sixth in points, Kenseth is now likely to qualify for the 12-driver championship Chase field later this year.

Per NASCAR's new Chase format, the top-10 drivers in points will be locked in the playoffs after the September 10 race at Richmond. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase will go to the drivers who have the most wins, provided they are in the top-20 at that time.

"You want to have the wins to have the wildcard if you have to fall back on that," Kenseth said. "We don't want to slide in off of wins if we're 18th in points or something. We want to go out there and race like this every week."

Kenseth made his Cup debut at Dover in September 1998, the same race that Martin won.

"We finally got a finish today," Martin said after his first top-five finish this season. "Looked like we were going to get 15th again with a really fast racecar. We've had a racecar this good a lot this year. Seems like for some reason or another we wind up in the back of the pack, and we just don't have enough to climb our way back to the front."

Martin is a four-time Dover race winner, with his last victory here coming in the spring of 2004.

Marcos Ambrose finished third, followed by Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer. Vickers missed both races at Dover last year, when he was being treated for blood clots.

Edwards wound up finishing seventh, while Martin Truex Jr. took the eighth spot.

"I didn't think that many guys would take two, and I thought [crew chief] Bob [Osborne's] call was a good one, but it just didn't work out," Edwards said.

Johnson, who was attempting to win his track-record-tying seventh race at Dover, ended up with a ninth-place finish. He started on the pole and led the most laps with 207.

"I knew I was outnumbered once I came off of pit road, and saw so many guys with two [tires]," Johnson said. "At that point, I knew we were kind of in trouble. The numbers don't work in your favor, especially at this track."

Saturday's qualifying session for the 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Dover was rained out. Therefore, Johnson earned the pole position since he was quickest in practice on Friday.

Kevin Harvick completed the top-10. There were no encounters between Harvick and Kyle Busch, as both drivers began their five-week long probation period this weekend at Dover. Last Tuesday, NASCAR placed Busch and Harvick on probation until June 15 and fined each one of them $25,000 following their post-race altercation in the May 7 Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway.

Regan Smith, the surprise race winner at Darlington, finished 34th after suffering a track bar issue late in the race.

05/15 19:10:11 ET