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Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Top 5 and 5 to watch: Dover
Sporting News

Here's a look at the top five in points and five drivers to watch in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. All statistical references are for Cup races at Dover unless otherwise indicated:

1. Jeff Gordon. If Gordon completes Sunday's race, he'll do well. Check this out: Four times in the past 13 races at Dover, Gordon has been involved in crashes that led to DNFs, resulting in finishes of 37, 36, 39 and 37. His average finish in the other nine races: 5.0, with his "worst" finish a 12th in this race last year.

2. Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's performance at the Monster Mile mirrors Gordon's. In 10 races, Johnson has two DNFs because of crashes. In the other eight: three wins and an average finish of 5.5.

3. Matt Kenseth. Let's keep the theme going. In Kenseth's past nine races at Dover, he hasn't finished three because of crashes. In the other six: one win and an average finish of 6.3. Kenseth's 112.3 driver rating is second only to Greg Biffle's 117.2 over the past four races.

4. Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has finished 11th and ninth in his two Cup races at Dover. No reason to expect less from him this week.

5. Jeff Burton. Burton won last fall's race during the Chase and finished fourth in the June race. His 7.0 average finish in the past four races is third best among drivers who have raced in each of the past four races at Dover.

Five to watch:

In honor of Casey Mears' first Cup victory, this week we take a look at five drivers who are looking for their first win:

Clint Bowyer, 10th. Expectations are high for Bowyer, who performed well in 2006, his rookie season. He has five top 10s in 12 races this year, and in his two races at Dover last year, he finished eighth and 17th.

J.J. Yeley, 15th. The fastest palindrome in NASCAR posted his best Cup finish last week, second in the Coca-Cola 600. But he hasn't fared well at Dover. In three Cup races, his average start is 31.0 and his average finish is 32.3.

Martin Truex Jr., 16th. In two Cup races at Dover, Truex has finishes of sixth and 22nd. In the Busch Series, however, he has two wins and a second in 10 races.

David Stremme, 21st. Stremme, who will be 30 on June 19, has yet to post a victory in any of NASCAR's top three series in 147 total races. In two Cup races at Dover, he has finishes of 18 and 41.

Juan Pablo Montoya, 22nd. NASCAR's most celebrated rookie is making his first visit to Dover, which will only increase his susceptibility to getting into wrecks.

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Kenseth seeking prescription for first COT win

DOVER, Del. - Matt Kenseth might have picked the wrong weekend to be sick. Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway is NASCAR's sixth race with the car of tomorrow, but Kenseth hasn't exactly lit up the scoreboard in the previous five.

Kenseth was 11th at Bristol, 10th at Martinsville, fifth at Phoenix, 10th at Richmond and seventh at Darlington. Not bad, but not great either.

And now, he heads to Dover having been sick for most of the week.

"I sure hope I'm starting to get over it, but I'm pretty sick," Kenseth said Friday.

Kenseth said he'll do the best he can this weekend rather than make excuses.

"You try to get rested up and eat right and drink as much as you can - hopefully, try to get rid of it," Kenseth said. "It's just part of it. We race pretty much every week, so you're bound to be sick once in a while during a race weekend."

That Dover is using the COT could be enough to make Kenseth sick. He led 298 laps in the two races at the 1-mile track last year, winning one and finishing 10th after a late-race battle with Jeff Burton in the other.

But that was in the old model. NASCAR's new model hasn't been kind to Roush Fenway Racing, as officials from the team admitted to being behind teams like Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing.

"We've run not the best in the COT races - we haven't run terrible but we really haven't been a contender to win, so I don't see that being a lot different this weekend," Kenseth said. "Hopefully, we gained on it a little bit. I thought gained a little bit at Darlington and was a lot more competitive, so hopefully we can take that other step and get a little closer to the front this week."

Hendrick drivers have won all five COT races, while Gibbs drivers have led nearly 1,000 laps in the new model. Kenseth said Roush Fenway is catching up but isn't quite on par with those teams yet.

"[NASCAR] took away a lot of areas you can work in, but there's still a lot of areas you can work in - all of the front suspension stuff and springs and shocks and bump stops and all that stuff," Kenseth said. "Hendrick's just been working on it for a long time. We haven't really been testing. We know that we're behind on it. They've been working on it for a year, and we've been working on it for three months.

"So we're just behind, and slowly we're getting caught up, and I think we'll be all right, but I think it's going to take a little bit of time."

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Driver Updates - Dover
June 3, 2007
By Micah Roberts

It looks to be more of the same COT dominance this week led by the Hendrick brigade.

TOP 5 cars after all practice and qualifying sessions:

1) Jimmie Johnson
2) Jeff Gordon
3) Denny Hamlin
4) Kyle Busch
5) Carl Edwards

Best long shots with legitimate shot at winning

1) Ryan Newman 25 to 1 or higher
2) Clint Bowyer 25 to 1 or higher
3) Martin Truex 35 to 1 or higher

Best Drivers to wager AGAINST in matchups at plus money

1) Kurt Busch
2) Jeff Burton
3) Dale Earnhardt Jr
4) Mark Martin
5) Kasey Kahne

Best DRIVERS to wager ON in matchups at plus money

1) Ryan Newman
2) Clint Bowyer
3) Martin Truex Jr
4) Jamie McMurray
5) Bobby Labonte

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Autism Speaks 400: Hendrick. Hendrick. Hendrick.    
by: Brian Gabrielle

The Monster Mile at Dover is an underrated track. If Bristol is one of NASCAR's cathedrals (and it is), Dover is a mega-church. It's actually quite a lot like Thunder Valley, except it's about twice as big and features one of the hairiest entrances to Pit Row in the entire sport. Both venues are concrete, both encourage a fair amount of rough driving and bruised feelings, and both will suck at least a dozen cars up against the wall at the exit of each turn. The guess here is that Sunday's winner's car will not go unblemished.

Note that this will be the sixth Car of Tomorrow event of the season, and if the other five have taught us anything so far this year, it's that excellence in the CoT trumps past excellence at a given track. Which is to say: you're crazy if you're not looking at Hendrick, Gibbs and maybe RCR cars for winners at the Sunday Dover event. Let's take a look at my favorite picks on the board.

Last Week: A kooky fuel-mileage finish in Charlotte wrecked what might have been an exceedingly lucrative Memorial Day weekend, but we still finished in the black thanks to an easy head-to-head win, Denny Hamlin over Kevin Harvick. That netted us a positive 0.24 units on 1.5 units wagered, and gave us a positive 2.38 units for the season on 18 units wagered, a return of 13.2%. (Note that if you'd eschewed the conservative betting scheme we outline below, and simply bet one unit per wager on everything we recommend, you'd have lost 2.26 units last weekend, but you'd still be up a net positive 13.08 units on 48 units wagered for the year, a return of 27.3%.)

Take Jeff Gordon (+541), 1/6th unit. In Car of Tomorrow events, Gordon has a ridiculous finishing average of 2.2. That's right: two-point-two. Plus, he's won two of them (at Phoenix and Darlington). There's no question that the Hendrick cars have spent more money and done more testing (both official and unofficial, if you believe Jack Roush) than any other team on the CoT, and it's paid off. While Denny Hamlin (+789) has looked great in four of the five CoT events, he hasn't been able to put an entire race together and earn a win; until he does, Hendrick seems like the smart play.

Take Jimmie Johnson (+468), 1/6th unit. Speaking of Hendrick.... J.J. has four wins in '07, and like Gordon, two of them have come on CoT tracks. Now, Johnson's CoT finishing average isn't quite's 5.0. And that's still ridiculous. Johnson probably should've won his fifth event of the year at Charlotte last week, but fell prey to some late loose lugs. Johnson has three career victories at Dover, including a win as recently as the fall of '05. He's the favorite in this event for a reason.

Take Kyle Busch (+1162), 1/6th unit. Yeah, yeah, really adventurous, I know. Three Hendrick cars, and the only guy I left out was last weekend's shocking winner, Casey Mears (+8000). Busch won the first-ever CoT event at Bristol (remember, Bristol and Dover share a lot of setup characteristics), and before crashing out of Dover's fall event last year, had a Cup career at the Monster Mile that read: 2nd, 2nd, 5th. Matt Kenseth (+1385) also tempts me here big-time, because he came a couple gallons of fuel away from sweeping the two Dover events last year (he won in the spring, then ran out of gas very late while leading last fall). But Hendrick + CoT = happiness. If Kenseth wins, I'll tip my cap to him, but at these odds, the younger Busch also makes a compelling case.

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Rain forces postponement of Cup race
June 3rd, 2007

Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Heavy rain from tropical depression Barry forced the cancellation of Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at the Dover International Speedway. The race has been rescheduled for Monday.

When the green flag drops to start the 200-lap event. Ryan Newman will start on the pole. The pole victory was Newman's third of the season and 40th of his Nextel Cup career. In just 201 starts, Newman's total of 40 wins puts him in a tie with Buddy Baker (701 starts) for 12th all-time. He can crack the top-10 all-time with just three more pole wins.

Starting alongside Newman will be Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bobby Labonte (23.637) and Kasey Kahne (23.678) will make up row two.

Other drivers of note and their starting positions: Carl Edwards (5th), points leader Jeff Gordon (6th), Jamie McMurray (8th), Jeff Burton (9th), Juan Montoya (16th), Matt Kenseth (17th) and Kevin Harvick (18th).

For the first time since the Daytona 500 (11 races ago), Michael Waltrip has qualified for a race. The No.55 NAPA Toyota qualified 23rd quickest.

Through the first 12 events of 2007, Chevrolet owns 11 wins. More to the point, Hendrick Motorsports leads the way with nine of the 11 Chevy victories, while Harvick (Daytona) and Burton (Texas) have the other two.

Only Kenseth's victory at California is keeping the "Bow-Tie" from a clean sweep. Kenseth also happens to be the defending champion in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. He edged his Roush Fenway Ford teammate McMurray for the win.

A Ford-powered car has won this race the past three years. To be more specific, a Roush Ford has won the last three years - Kenseth in 2006, Greg Biffle in 2005 and Mark Martin in 2004.

Monday's weather forecast is not great, but better than today. It calls for a 60-percent chance of rain in the morning and clearing in the afternoon.

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

mvbski wrote:

mvbski wrote:

Penske Rising  

The results weren't there for Roger Penske's team at Lowe's last week: Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch qualified first and second for the Coca-Cola 600 on Thursday, but both drivers struggled with their cars on Sunday with disappointing results. Busch crashed out of the race late and finished 32nd, while Newman blew an engine mid-race and finished 39th.

But two bad results can't take the luster away from one of the Nextel Cup's most improved teams in 2007. Before Charlotte, Busch and Newman had combined for five top-10 finishes in the previous three races and were looking like Chase contenders. What's more, even though their seasons have been uneven to date, the feeling in the Penske garage is that the organization is finally on the rise after a nightmarish '06 season that saw Busch win one race and finish 16th in points, while Newman went winless and bottomed out in 18th.

The organization's problems stemmed from a refusal to change the setup of its cars from an old one that had produced a lot of wins. Also making things difficult was the aerodynamically challenged nose of Penske's Dodge Chargers, which often kept Busch and Newman driving unbalanced racecars. Throw in the fact that '06 was Busch's first with Penske and all the pieces were in place for an uneven and frustrating season.

This year should end up better for the pair. Both drivers felt that they had top-five cars at Daytona (Busch led a race-high 95 laps), but accidents during the race kept them from contending for the win. That is a scenario that has played out time and again so far for Penske. I spent a lot of time with the team in Charlotte last week, and I got the same impression that I got when I hung out with Denny Hamlin and his Gibbs crew during the All-Star race: they're close to breaking through. They just haven't had the breaks.

Can they compete for the Cup? I think so. I have to admit that I'm starting to lose a little bit of patience with teams and drivers who refuse to acknowledge the clear superiority of the Hendrick operation to this point. It can't all be luck-good drivers and teams make their own, after all. On the other hand, though, what else are they supposed to say? Giving in would be like losing, and these guys all hate to lose. I'm betting we see a Penske Dodge in victory lane more than once before '07 is over.

I made a bet on Newman at 18/1 for Dover since this team has been improving each and every week with both types of cars.


Newman runs second to Truex  :-","xx

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Re: Autism Speaks 400 News and Notes

Truex takes first career win at Dover
June 4, 2007

DOVER, Del. (AP) -Martin Truex Jr. earned his first career victory for Dale Earnhardt Inc., winning at Dover International Speedway on Monday hours after the death of longtime NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.

Truex won for the first time in 58 career points races on what the New Jersey native has long considered his hometown track. He ended a dominant five-race winning streak for Hendrick Motorsports, leading 216 of the 400 laps on the Monster Mile in NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.

But news of France's death overshadowed the race. The flag at victory lane was lowered to half staff shortly after the announcement, and drivers paid tribute to the man who transformed NASCAR. Truex was reminded over the radio by his crew to remember and honor France after the race.

Certainly the day's wait for the Autism 400 was worth it for Truex, now closing in on being one of the top 12 drivers for the Chase. The blowers were still out while the cars were out on the grid waiting for their pace laps. But the sun peeked out right as the green flag dropped, which led to a clear and clean day of racing.

Pole sitter Ryan Newman, who led most of the first half of the race, was denied his first win since 2005 and finished second. Carl Edwards, who won the Busch Series race here on Saturday was third.

Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.

Hendrick Motorsports had won five straight races and nine of the past 10 Nextel Cup races, but only Jeff Gordon (9th) finished in the top 10 at Dover. Casey Mears was 13th; Jimmie Johnson was 15th and Kyle Busch 17th.

Mears won the Coca-Cola 600 last week, giving Nextel Cup two first-time winners in consecutive races.

Truex had not seen his success on the Busch Series circuit - consecutive championships in 2004 and 2005 before joining DEI - carry over into Cup. But he gained momentum two weeks ago when he won the Nextel Open at Charlotte and earned a spot in the in NASCAR's All-Star race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hoped to turn a second-place qualifying effort into his first win of the season but instead was plagued by tire woes, dropped four laps back at one point, and finished 22nd.

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