Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dover Preview: 2013 FedEx 400

Johnson won for the seventh time on the 1-mile concrete oval in 2012 
The northeast gets their first live look at the touring NASCAR series this week when it arrives in Dover, Delaware for the 13th points race of the season. Also, 13 races will remain until the Chase begins. 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. They call it the "Monster Mile".

"Dover is one of my favorite tracks," said Paul Menard, driver of the RCR No. 27 SS Chevrolet. "It's one of the few tracks that you get your greatest sense of speed. You can really feel the speed inside the car and anything can happen at that one-mile oval, making the nickname 'Monster Mile' very fitting. When you drop off into the corner, you feel the speed the most. We've had mixed results at Dover in the past, but I feel like we've got some momentum going into this weekend with our Libman/Menards Chevrolet."

The best way to handicap this weeks 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. 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 others 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.

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