On Sunday, September 30, 2012, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers raced in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. This was the next race in the Chase for the Cup and there would be just seven races left in both the season and the Chase after Dover. Up until this race, the Chase had been a close one. This race not only gave the Chase a new leader but also helped spread out the field a little more. The night before the Sprint Cup race, Joey Logano had taken the victory in the Nationwide race at Dover and fans were likely hoping his momentum would help him in this race. He did get a top 10 finish in the AAA 400. Denny Hamlin had claimed the pole position for this race, but managed only to finish in eighth.
In the end, the race came down to which teams could manage their fuel the best. Brad Keselowski's team by far did the best job and it is not surprising that he won. The win gave Keselowski enough points to take the lead in the Chase. Those working on the team not only had the fuel conservation skill to help the driver, but there was also some luck to go along with it. During the race, just after most drivers on the lead lap pitted, a caution came out to help the drivers who stayed out get a little distance over those who were a lap down after pitting. It was a costly and inopportune caution for many top contenders.
Jeff Gordon managed to have a great finish and move up two spots in the standings. Thanks to a second place finish, fans of the driver now have some hope that he is not out of the Chase for the Cup just yet. It would still be a significant uphill battle for the veteran driver to take the season, but he showed that he still has what it takes to get good finishes.
The Monster Mile generally puts on a great show and this race was no exception. The drivers were racing hard in order to move up in the standings or prove that they should have been in the Chase. Though there were moments where it seemed slower than other races may have been, this race was ultimately a strategy race. In the end the teams that did best with fuel mileage won. This race shows that sometimes there is more to a race than just putting the pedal down and going all out.
Kristin Watt has been a NASCAR Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup, fan for as long as she can remember starting way back when she was a little girl and her mother would sit on the couch with her every Sunday during the season to watch the races. Back then, they were fans of Bill Elliott and newcomer Davey Allison.
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