Hendrick’s Dominance of 2021 Spring Dover:

Hendrick dominated Dover and pulled off a historic 1-2-3-4 finish. How did they do it?

Raw Speed

Everyone’s been talking about Bowman’s fast pit stop, but all the Hendrick cars were fast on the track. Hendrick cars held the top four spots for fastest lap of the race.

Hendrick dominated Dover by sheer speed, as this vertical column chart of fastest laps for each driver shows.
This graph shows each driver’s fastest lap of the race.

The first non-Hendrick driver was Truex, Jr., who seemed to be just about as fast as the slower Hendrick cars when MTJ was fast.

When Fastest Laps Were Run

I say ‘when MTJ was fast‘ because they couldn’t get their car dialed in after their initial run, as you can see from where each driver had their fastest lap.

This vertical bar chart shows at which lap each driver ran his fastest.

Part of Hendrick’s dominance is that all four cars were able to improve their speed later in the race. Cars like Harvick, Reddick and Logano ran their fastest laps early in the race. All four Hendrick cars ran their fastest laps much later in the race.

Tire Fall Off

The other unheralded skill that turned out to be important is making the most of your tires while they’re fresh. While tire fall-off wasn’t as fast as at Darlington, it was plenty fast.

A scatter plot comparing the laptimes for Alex Bowman against those for Kyle Larson
Bowman is represented by green triangles while Larson is blue stars.

On the long run from lap 41-120, Kyle Larson lost a tenth of a second in lap time every five laps.

But something to notice here is how much more Larson got out of his tires early on in the race. That’s because Larson started 4th and Bowman 16th. With clean air and fewer cars around him, Larson got a half second to a second per lap advantage on Bowman in the early stages of the race.

Once they were racing 1-2 though, they were running almost identical lap times. Elliott was running comparable lap times as well. Byron was a little off, but despite Logano’s charge through the field, there simple weren’t enough laps for Logano to break Hendrick’s dominance.

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