Casey’s win nice change

May 29, 2007 7:45 AM

Last week’s first ever win for Casey Mears was a great boost for NASCAR fans everywhere.

It seems like it’s been all Jimmie and Jeff show each week. Even more encouraging is that several regular bottom feeders finished in the top 5. The likes of J.J. Yeley, Kyle Petty, Reed Sorenson, and Brian Vickers all had their best finishes of the season.

For Vickers, he not only has the weight of his own expectations on his back but he’s also got the pressure of trying to do something good for a new manufacturer. Vickers gave Toyota their best run of the season with a fifth place finish.

Mears won the race, but before we get too excited let us not forget the team for which he drives. That’s right, another Hendrick win! This week at Dover it doesn’t get much easier for the competition. Driving the Car of Tomorrow has seen a Hendrick racer win all five events thus far.

Jeff Gordon has been just down-right piggish in those five, compiling two wins, a second, third and fourth. Jimmie Johnson also has two wins with Kyle Busch taking the other COT race.

The COT data shows that Hendrick is light years ahead of all the other teams, but the Gibbs drivers are catching up. This week at Dover presents the best opportunity for someone other than a Hendrick driver to win in the COT. Because of the steeper banking, this track isn’t really similar to any they have run. They are used to the short and mid-size tracks with not much banking at all except Bristol’s half mile track.

The driver leading the charge to upset Hendrick is Denny Hamlin, who finished 11 and 9 last year in his first go-around at Dover. He’s been so close in the COT with three third place finishes and a second at Darlington in the last COT race. Joe Gibbs racing has definitely closed the gap on Hendrick’s advantage, now it’s just a matter of getting a win.

The next three drivers to look at are all from the Hendrick stable. Las Vegan Kyle Busch has been great in his four Dover starts with two second place finishes his rookie season and a fifth last year. We won’t even get into the greatness of Gordon and Johnson this week other than the fact Gordon’s last win at Dover came in 2001. Johnson has three career wins on the track. Mix that in with their current status in the COT and you can see why they the favorites to win this week.

Is there anyone else who can compete with the top 2 Chevy teams? It’s not likely, but a couple Roush drivers and the Penske duo should have decent runs. Ryan Newman had a great fourth place finish in the last COT race at Darlington. When adding in his in great overall Dover performances through his career with three wins there, he becomes a driver to take a shot with at 30/1 or better.

Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray have all been better than average in their COT’s and are likely to get better each time out. It may not be this week, but they are drivers that hold great value in individual matchup propositions because they are consistent with the new cars.




Denny Hamlin




Jimmie Johnson




Kyle Busch




Jeff Gordon




Ryan Newman




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