Mash The Gas – Dover Preview

400 miles of racing are on tap this Sunday at the “Monster Mile” of Dover International Speedway.

This concrete banked one-mile oval has eaten up racecars as the cars funnel onto the tight straights. The lightening fast track and it’s self-cleaning high banks coupled with close inside walls, leave little room for error and as a result, very few single car accidents occur here as it is very easy to be swept up in someone else’s misfortune. Those who have been complaining about the lack of cautions could be in for a treat.

The green flag for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks is scheduled to fly Sunday afternoon at 1:15pm eastern.

#48-Jimmie Johnson
Dan Margetta – Johnson is the only driver I have ever seen lose a car at Dover and never hit anything and when he spiraled down the backstretch without touching the wall, I became a believer in his ability. With six wins, Johnson has the highest driver rating among his peers at Dover and his average running position of 7.7 is the Series best.

John Wiedemann – It is kind of becoming a broken record for us to keep having Johnson in the top of the favorites, but that is where he belongs. Johnson and the entire Hendrick team (well, not really sure about Gordon) are hot right now. Johnson has the stats at Dover as well with six wins at Dover including his first two starts there and three wins in his last six starts at the Monster.

#17-Matt Kenseth
JW – This race was won by Matt Kenseth last year when on last minute two tire strategy. Dover was the site of Kenseth’s first Cup Series start and he finished 6th in that race subbing for Bill Elliott. Kenseth has been hanging around in the point standings right behind leader and teammate Greg Biffle. After Dover, Kenseth may be on top of the standings.

DM – Matt Kenseth heads to one of his favorite tracks in Dover, having won this event last year. With two wins, Kenseth trails only Johnson in both driver rating and average running position (7.9). Dover seems to be really good to Kenseth but this is also the place where freak accidents and bad luck have struck including crashing while entering pit road (the water barrel highlight), cut tires late, and running out of fuel on the final lap. If Dover smiles on Kenseth, he’s usually in victory lane otherwise it could be a long day.

#99-Carl Edwards
DM – Edwards didn’t get the nickname “Concrete Carl” by riding around here. Edwards has fared well on the concrete surface of Dover and has one win and an average finishing position of 7.3. The top ten last week at Charlotte could springboard into victory here and get this team out of the funk they’ve been in since losing the championship at the end of last year.

JW – Carl Edwards has 15 starts at Dover with 11 top 10, 7 top 5 and won in 2007. Edwards had two top tens last year with a 7th and 3rd place finish in the Chase. Edwards is hanging on to tenth place in the standings by just four points and needs to get hot soon as other drivers like Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne are looking to pass him by.

#2-Brad Keselowski

DM – While still just outside the top ten in points but in the Chase on a wildcard at the moment due to his two wins, Keselowski is slowly becoming a serious championship contender, coming off a fifth place run at Charlotte. One of his wins this season came at Bristol, another concrete surface and he’s driver many are overlooking each week.

JW – Dover hasn’t been a fantastic track for Keselowski in the past, but stats don’t matter to Bad Brad. Keselowski is a driver that can pretty much win anywhere. Plus, Kurt Busch won the fall race there so Penske Racing should have some good notes to work off of.

#9-Marcos Ambrose
DM – This week’s long shot pick for me is Marcos Ambrose. While someone told me earlier this year to never pick him on a track with no right turns, this team has run very well the past few weeks only to have a mechanical issue take them out of contention. Last year, Ambrose came to Dover with 100-1 odds and finished a strong third. The #9 car is on the verge of finding victory lane on an oval and it could be this weekend.

#22-AJ Allmendinger
JW – AJ is going to win a race this year, I’m sure of it. Why not Dover? As I said earlier, Kurt Busch won the last race at Dover driving the #22. In ten races, Allmendinger has started in the top 10 six times and he has three top ten finishes. This could be the race for AJ to visit victory lane.

#16-Greg Biffle
DM – The Series points leader continues to have success each and every week and Biffle has two wins at Dover and enjoys the fourth best driver rating. This team and driver believe in each other and the results have lined up nicely. Biffle is a serious championship contender and should be considered a favorite to win nearly every week.

JW – Can’t forget about Biffle. Biffle has been kind of quiet lately, but he has retained the top spot in the standings. Along with his Roush Fenway Racing teammates, Biffle is good at Dover. Whether he will be in winning form this weekend or racking up another top five finish, he will be at the front of the pack.

#18-Kyle Busch
JW – I’m still waiting for Kyle to go on a tear and rip off a couple wins. His last four races (1st, 6th, 4th and 6th) have netted a fourth place average finish at Dover. Busch will be a contender for victory this weekend.

DM -Kyle Busch as the fifth best driver rating at Dover and attacks Dover’s intimidating high-banks with his aggressive driving style. This team is also enjoying a bit of a run lately, coming off a strong third place at Charlotte and having already scored a victory this season. Busch can hustle a car around “The Monster Mile” and has two Dover wins to his credit.

Another One Or Two To Watch:
#43-Aric Almirola
JW – Almirola is gaining confidence and running well this year. With new crew chief Mike Ford, Almirola hit the high note of the season so far with a pole winning run at Charlotte. Seeing most of the tracks for the first time in the Sprint Cup Series, including this week at Dover, Almirola has been solid racing the famed #43. It will be interesting to see his return visits to the tracks later this year with veteran Ford at his side.

#5-Kasey Kahne
JW – Kasey Kahne picked up his first win for Hendrick Motorsports at Charlotte last week. Can he double up this weekend? Maybe. Kahne has four top ten finishes with his best finish (4th) coming in the fall race last year. Add to his stats the fact that he now races Hendrick equipment and is on a streak of scored six top ten finishes… He is one to watch.

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