The northeast part of America gets their first live look at the touring NASCAR series this week when it arrives in Dover, Delaware, for the points race No. 13 of the season.
Dover International Speedway is a unique 1-mile concrete oval with 24 degrees of banking that has been part of the Sprint Cup series schedule since 1969.
The best way to handicap this week’s race is by using a little bit of past track history, what has happened on a few tracks this season, and also what teams are in a groove right now. The final part of the equation will be known on Saturday after the final two practices are run in race trim.
Because there is no other track like Dover, we have to piece together a few elements from other tracks to come up with the top candidates to win. The track requires lots of horsepower, but not to the degree of Charlotte, Texas or Fontana. It also requires a great set-up with a premium placed on the balance of the car, which makes Bristol‘s high banked half-mile track similar in some ways.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed several crew chiefs using their Bristol chassis at Dover and if that logic is good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
To recap what we saw at Bristol on March 17, Kasey Kahne led six times for 109 laps and beat Kyle Busch by 1.7 seconds. Denny Hamlin finished 23rd but led twice for a race-high 117 laps. All three of those drivers should be in contention this week. Kahne and Hamlin have never won at Dover, but Busch has two wins there, the last coming in 2010.
Carl Edwards has the best average finish (8.3) at Dover, which includes a 2007 win. Among the many nicknames given to him, “Concrete Carl” seems to fit him best because he’s been one of the best between competition in the Nationwide and Cup series on concrete surfaces. In his last race at Dover, Edwards finished fifth.
Jimmie Johnson has five Dover wins, the most among all active drivers. He won this race last year, which gave him four wins in seven races.
Brad Keselowski won in the fall last season and has a 14.3 average finish in six career starts. If we put Bristol into the equation, Keselowski becomes an even better candidate to win this week. He’s a two-time winner at Bristol and was third there in March.
Matt Kenseth has been good just about everywhere this season and is a two-time Dover winner, the last coming in 2011. He’s had top-5 finishes in eight of his last 10 starts there.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].