fedex 400

Almirola takes advantage of late cautions, earns best result of 2015

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With 17 laps remaining in Sunday’s Fedex 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks, Aric Almirola was running in 10th place. Even if he stayed there, he would earn his best finish of 2015.

But then two wrecks in the final 13 scheduled laps further improved the fortunes of Almirola and his No. 43 Smithfield Ford, which was the “Lucky Dog” more than once in the 405-lap race at Dover International Speedway.

Separate three-car accidents on Laps 387 and 398 moved Almirola up from 10th, and through two restarts, he was able to put his car in fifth once the checkered flag waved.

“I earned my money today, that is for sure,” Almirola said. “(The car) was a handful most of the day. It started off extremely tight. (Crew chief) Trent Owens and the guys made really good adjustments on the car and got it better and better.”

Almirola earned the free pass two times — on the first (Lap 75) and third (Lap 176) cautions of the race. He would start at the back of the pack each time before being lapped within the next 30 to 50 laps. Eventually, Almirola finally found himself ahead of the lead pack when a caution came out, allowing him to restart on the lead lap and make his way into the top 10.

“That was the big break for us,” Almirola said. “It was a great day for us, a really good points day for us.”

Almirola entered Sunday’s race 12th in the driver’s standings, 134 points behind leader Kevin Harvick and six points out of 10th place. He exits Dover 10th in the standings, 138 points behind Harvick.

“I am proud of Trent Owens and all the guys at Richard Petty Motorsports,” Almirola said. “They have been working their guts out trying to bring better cars to the race track week in and week out.”

Before Sunday, Almirola’s best finish was 11th three times, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Kansas Speedway. He was averaging a finish of 15.8 through the season’s 12 races.

“We have to get better qualifying,” Almirola said. “That is our Achilles’ heel right now. We start too deep in the field every week. All in all, it was a good day for us, and I am ready to go to Pocono.”

At Pocono Raceway, Almirola has an average starting spot of 19th, which has been a key reason he hasn’t finished better than 18th in six starts at the three-turn track.

Sprint Cup points standings after FedEx 400: Harvick leads, Johnson in top three

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Jimmie Johnson won the Fedex 400 benefiting Autism Speaks for his fourth victory of 2015, once again edging points leader Kevin Harvick.

Harvick finished second after leading 91 laps and retained his lead in the standings with 516 points.

Johnson moved up to spots to third in the standings, trailing Harvick by 76 points.

For the third points race in a row, Martin Tuex Jr led the most laps but failed to win, finishing sixth in a green-white-checkered conclusion. With his 12th top 10 this season, Truex is ranked second in the standings, trailing Harvick by 44 points.

Kasey Kahne finished fourth Sunday and moved up two spots in the standings to eighth.

Matt Kenseth, who finished 39th with a DNF because of suspension trouble, dropped four spots in the points standings to 11th. Kenseth, though, has a provisional spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup by virtue of his victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sprint Cup points after Fedex 400:





Martin Truex Jr. leads halfway through the Fedex 400 at Dover International Speedway

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After 200 laps, Martin Truex Jr. is the halfway leader in the Fedex 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.

Truex is leading for the third time today and has led 84 laps. Truex also led at the halfway point in last week’s Coca-Cola 600.

There were three cautions in the first 200 laps, the first on Lap 75 after a report of debris in Turn 1.

Just as a round of green-flag stops was concluding on Lap 164, the second yellow flew for debris from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Ford. Six laps after the restart, another caution appeared for a three-car wreck on the frontstretch involving Trevor Bayne, Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier.

The first half of the race featured only four leaders: pole-sitter Hamlin (110 laps led), Truex ( 84 laps), Carl Edwards (three) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (three).

The top 10 after 200 laps: Truex, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray.

Hamlin fell several position on the Lap 185 restart and is in 15th.

Entry list for Sprint Cup Series’ FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover

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There are 45 entries into the field for the Sprint Cup Series’ Fedex 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.

The 13th points race of the season, last year’s edition was won by Jimmie Johnson, who has visited victory lane in Dover in nine of his 26 career starts at the 1-mile track.

The race can be seen on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.

Entry list for the Fedex 400: