Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dover Practice Notes and Final Driver Ratings

Johnson looks primed for eighth Dover win 
Jimmie Johnson wasn't fastest in either of the two final practice sessions Saturday at Dover International Speedway, but on the first 10 laps of the final session he showed why he was posted as the 7-to-2 favorite to win Sunday's AAA 400.

Johnson came out blazing with the second fastest lap (156.182 mph) of the 50-minute session on his third lap, and he continued to be fast for seven more laps, which was good enough to give him the best 10-consecutive lap average among the 23 drivers that ran as many continuously.

Just because a driver leads this category doesn't necessarily mean they are going to win the race, but when it's a champion like Johnson, who has seven wins on the high-banked concrete surface of Dover, it goes a long way to at least saying he's the favorite and is going to be tough to beat.

Because Johnson hasn't fared his best on 1.5-mile tracks this season, and four more of those tracks remain on the Chase schedule, Dover becomes one of those tracks that he has to do well at in an attempt to win his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title. He's won at Dover three times during Chase races, including his last two Championship seasons.

With the way Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch have started out the Chase -- finishing 1-2 in the first two races -- and combining to win six of the seven races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, Johnson needs to be better than them this week.

However, Kenseth isn't exactly a slouch at Dover himself, and he was just a notch below Johnson with the second best 10-consecutive lap average. Kenseth will be attempting to win his third straight race of the Chase and eighth overall on the season. He's a two-time winner at Dover and has a 13.6 average finish in 29 career starts, the first start of which was his first in the Cup series in 1998.

While Johnson, Kenseth and Busch jockey for point position, Brad Keselowski is racing just to get his first win of the season. The reigning champ doesn't get to defend his title, but he looks to be in good shape to defend his Dover fall race crown. He won this race last season and also finished fifth in the spring. During happy hour, he laid down the fastest lap (156.338 mph) and had the fourth best 10-consecutive average. He may present the best value on the odds board this week.

In the morning practice session, Kasey Kahne had the fastest single lap (157.288 mph) and also the fastest 10-consecutive lap average. Just like Johnson, Kenseth and Keselowski, expect Kahne to be very good on long runs and be a contender to notch his first career win around the 1-mile oval.

Another reason to like Kahne this week, beyond his practice times, is that he's using his winning chassis from the March Bristol race. Since Bristol's concrete layout was altered in the fall of 2007 to feature multiple grooves, the track has run very similar to Dover.

Read More Here....Final Driver Ratings

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