Dodge Dealers 400 News and Notes

Dodge Dealers 400 News and Notes

Earnhardt Jr. eyeing strong Dover run
SCENEDAILY.Com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came close to winning the pole at Dover International Speedway in June and then watched Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Martin Truex Jr. go out and win the race, so he's fairly confident in his team and his equipment heading into this weekend's Dodge Dealers 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the track.

In 15 Cup starts at the track, Earnhardt Jr. has one win (September 2001) with six top-10 finishes, three of them top-fives.

Earnhardt Jr. says that his team should run well at the track once more this weekend.

"Historically, we've always been really fast there, and it's always seemed to be feast or famine - we've had good finishes or wrecked trying," he said.

Earnhardt Jr. admits that he thought he had the pole position in hand in June, but Ryan Newman bumped him off at the last minute. Then he thought he had the car to beat on long runs but blew a tire after 100 laps in the race.

"It was heartbreaking, or should I say it was deflating," he said. "Then, we fought and clawed back and had a second flat tire later in the race. Considering all of that, the fact we were still 22nd at the end of the day showed how fast we were."

If he can avoid those setbacks this time, he might have a better showing for his effort. Earnhardt Jr. points out that everyone at DEI learned more about the car of tomorrow every time it appears in a race and is certain that learning curve will continue when the new model is used again this weekend.

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The Chase Heads to Dover for the Top 12

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 17, 2007) – Below is a look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 12, going into the Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 23.

1 – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) The File: • 31 years old from El Cajon, Calif., 29 career wins • Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 12.7 • Led 15 of 27 races for 966 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Three wins, four top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 11.7 • Finished 15th at Dover in June • Led six of 11 races for 553 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 710 Fastest Laps Run

2 – Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) The File: • 36 years old, Vallejo, Calif., 79 career wins • Four wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s this year • Six poles • Average finish of 8.0 this season • Led 18 of 27 races for 1,033 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 12.4 • Finished ninth in June • Led 17 of 29 races for 2,198 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-best Average Running Position of 8.5

3 – Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) The File: • 36 years old from Columbus, Ind., 32 career wins • Three wins, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s • Average finish of 11.9 • Led 18 of 27 races for 929 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 10.7 • Finished 40th in June • Led 10 of 17 races for 1,066 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 563 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

4 – Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet) The File: • 28 years old from Emporia, Kan., one career win • One win, three top fives, 13 top 10s; two pole • Average finish of 14.3 • Led 10 of 27 races for 306 laps • Scored perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 in his win at New Hampshire Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Two top 10s • Average finish of 11.0 • Finished eighth in June • Led one of three races for two laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Seventh-best Closer – 33 positions improved over the last 10 percent of races

5 – Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet) The File: • 22 years old from Las Vegas, Nev., four career wins • One win, seven top fives, 15 top 10s • Average finish of 13.6 • Led 14 of 27 races for 295 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Three top fives • Average finish of 13.2 • Finished 17th June • Led two of five races for 112 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Fifth-fastest average Green Flag Speed

6 – Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) The File: • 27 years old from Mayetta, N.J., one career win • One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 15.3 • Led 11 of 27 races for 351 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top 10s • Average finish of 9.7 • Won at Dover in June • Led one of three races for 216 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 2,420 Green Flag Passes

7 – Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) The File: • 35 years old from Cambridge, Wis., 15 career wins • One win, eight top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 11.9 • Led 14 of 27 races for 288 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.2 • Finished fifth in June • Led four of 17 races for 357 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 7,372 laps run on the lead lap

8 – Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) The File: • 28 years old from Columbia, Mo., six career wins • Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 13.3 • Led 10 of 27 races for 333 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, three top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 • Finished third in June • Led three of six races for 41 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 5,765 Laps in the Top 15, sixth-most

9 – Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) The File: • 26 years old, Chesterfield, Va., three career wins • One win, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 12.4 • Led 13 of 27 races for 738 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • One top five, two top 10s • Average finish of 8.0 in three races • Finish fourth in June Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 397 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most

10 – Kevin Harvick
(No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) The File: • 31 years old from Bakersfield, Calif., 11 career victories • One win, four top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 15.6 this season • Led nine of 26 races for 251 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, five top 10s • Average finish of 17.8 • Finished 20th in June • Led one of 13 races for 133 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Third-best Closer – 39 positions improved over the last 10 percent of races

11 – Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) The File: • 40 years old from South Boston, Va., 19 career wins • One win, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.6 • Led six of 27 races for 28 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • One win, six top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 17.3 • Finished 12th in June • Led eight of 27 races for 127 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 1,361 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green flag conditions), fourth-most

12 – Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) The File: • 29 years old from Las Vegas, Nev., 17 career wins • Two wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.4 • Led 15 of 27 races for 651 laps Dover International Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.0 • Finished 42nd in June • Led three of 14 races for 205 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 1,454 Quality Passes

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NASCAR - Dodge Dealers 400 - Odds to Win

Jeff Gordon 6-1

Jimmie Johnson 6-1

Tony Stewart 6-1

Denny Hamlin 7-1

Matt Kenseth 12-1

Kyle Busch 12-1

Kurt Busch 10-1

Carl Edwards 10-1

Martin Truex Jr 8-1

Kevin Harvick 20-1

Jeff Burton 25-1

Dale Earnhardt Jr 15-1

Mark Martin 50-1

Ryan Newman 12-1

Clint Bowyer 15-1

Casey Mears 60-1

Greg Biffle 50-1

Jamie McMurray 100-1

Juan Pablo Montoya 100-1

Kasey Kahne 30-1

Reed Sorenson 100-1

Paul Menard 100-1

Bobby Labonte 100-1

David Stremme 100-1

Elliott Sadler 100-1

Robby Gordon 100-1

Dave Blaney 100-1

JJ Yeley 100-1

Jeff Green 100-1

Kenny Wallace 100-1

Bill Elliott 100-1

David Gilliland 100-1

David Ragan 100-1

Field (Any Other Driver) 50-1

[img]http://www.sportsbook.com/images/top-sp … k-logo.gif[/img]

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RacingOne Power Rankings
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Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer lead this week's edition of the RacingOne Power Rankings as the series heads to Dover International Speedway for the Dodge Dealers 400 - the second race in The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

RacingOne ranks drivers based on last week's performance, current points ranking and who's been hot as of late.

1. Jeff Gordon: Overcame a mediocre qualifying effort to come from the 18th starting spot to finish second at New Hampshire, but admittedly had absolutely nothing for the dominating Clint Bowyer.

Last Week's Position: Fourth

Dover Fact: Gordon leads all drivers with 2,198 laps led.

2. Clint Bowyer: Can now look forward to facing the media without getting asked about when the first win would finally come and has an excellent chance at talking about another victory or two before the year is over.

Last Week's Position: 13th

Dover Fact: Bowyer has finished eighth in his last two starts.

3. Tony Stewart: Has gone consistent and quiet the last few weeks, a far cry from the feisty winner we saw in late summer.

Last Week's Position: Third

Dover Fact: Stewart has a 26.2 average finish in his last five starts.

4. Jimmie Johnson: A sixth to start the Chase wasn't spectacular, but a heck of a lot better than the 39th Johnson had to show for his Loudon efforts a year ago.

Last Week's Position: First

Dover Fact: Johnson has one win and an average finish of 7.8 in his last five starts.

5. Martin Truex Jr: No doubt has been waiting to return to Dover, the scene of his first career Cup win, and this time for a better reason than just some home cooking.

Last Week's Position: Sixth

Dover Fact: Truex Jr. won in June after leading 216 laps.

6. Kyle Busch: Still not a fan of the COT but pit strategy to stay on track during a caution Sunday helped him to a good finish despite driving a car he didn't like.

Last Week's Position: Seventh

Dover Fact: Busch has three top fives in five starts.

7. Matt Kenseth: Drove from deep in the field at Loudon to post a seventh-place finish, a needed top ten to start his Chase.

Last Week's Position: 12th

Dover Fact: Kenseth has three top 10s in the last three races, including a win in the 2006 June race.

8. Carl Edwards: After crashing his primary car Friday in practice and no time to dial in the backup when rain KO'd practice, Edwards will take an eighth at Loudon just fine.

Last Week's Position: Ninth

Dover Fact: Edwards has a 10.5 average finish in six starts.

9. Ryan Newman: Newman posted another strong finish at New Hampshire, a track he likes almost as much as Dover, which he heads to with an 8.4 average finish.

Last Week's Position: 14th

Dover Fact: Newman has the best average finish among all drivers with four or more starts.

10. Denny Hamlin: Needed a late pit stop strategy like he won with at New Hampshire in July to help him make up ground at Loudon last Sunday, which he never did.

Last Week's Position: Fifth

Dover Fact: Hamlin has yet to finish worse than 11th in three starts.

11. Casey Mears: Mears was the top finishing non-Chase driver at New Hampshire plus the finish put all the Hendrick cars in the top eight on Sunday.

Last Week's Position: N/R

Dover Fact: Mears finished 13th in his first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in June.

12. Kevin Harvick: Came up flat at New Hampshire, in fact two flats, which cost Harvick a chance at a repeat Loudon win.

Last Week's Position: Eighth

Dover Fact: Harvick has two top 10s in his last seven starts.

13. Kurt Busch: Sour motor plagued the 2004 champion's start to the 2007 Chase and he's hoping Jimmie Johnson's bad start and rebound a year ago will be inspiration.

Last Week's Position: Second

Dover Fact: Busch has one top five in three starts with Penske Racing.

14. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Earnhardt Jr. must have been thinking about his Wednesday announcement when he spun on lap 180 at New Hampshire.

Last Week's Position: 10th

Dover Fact: Earnhardt Jr. has one top-10 finish in his last five starts.

15. J.J. Yeley: Now that he has secured a ride for 2008, maybe back-to-back top 10s are in the cards for Yeley.

Last Week's Position: N/R

Dover Fact: Yeley has a 33.5 average finish in four starts.

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Who's Hot / Who's Not In the Chase : New Hampshire Edition
frontstretch.com

One race down…nine races to go. After his dominating performance on Sunday, Clint Bowyer has to be asking himself what the big deal is about all this Chase pressure everyone kept talking to him about. The only winless driver in the playoffs, he threw that status right out the window Sunday, coming out of the gates strong to score the first victory of his Cup career and climbing to fourth in points in the process. But Bowyer didn’t stand alone in his success; for the majority of the Chasers, Loudon proved to be a solid starting point for their ten race quest for the Cup. In fact, the top seven finishing positions on Sunday went to drivers solidly within the Chase field; only three ended the day outside the Top 15, leaving the twelve car lineup more tightly bunched at this juncture than ever before.

So, which drivers are still heating things up and hitting their marks as the Chase rolls on, and which ones are feeling the pressure to perform? Read this week’s Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase to find out.

Author’s Note : This week, instead of giving you the normal Hot/Warm/Cool/Cold breakdown; we’re ranking the full field of the Chase drivers from Who’s Hot to Who’s Not as the series heads to Dover for week two of the Chase to the Championship. In other words, think of it as a one-time Power Ranking without the smart aleck comments…

Jimmie Johnson:
Johnson’s win streak ended at Loudon on Sunday, but his sixth place finish was still good enough to keep him tied for the points lead heading into Dover. With three straight Top 10s and six in the last seven races, the No. 48 team is peaking at the right time of the year. That trend should continue this weekend at Dover, a track that Johnson has won at three times in his career. The Hendrick cars showed their CoT dominance again at Loudon and they should be flexing their muscle again this weekend, leaving Johnson in perfect position to capitalize.

Jeff Gordon: Hendrick’s CoT dominance also bodes well for Gordon as he looks to break the tie he has for the top spot with his teammate. After seemingly taking a few weeks off to “test” when he wrapped up his position in the Chase, Gordon has gotten back on track with two straight Top 5 finishes, including a distant runner-up result to Clint Bowyer this weekend. A four-time Dover winner, Gordon’s recent history bodes well for him. He has finished in the Top 10 there in the last two races, including a ninth place finish in June of this year in the CoT.

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer came out of the gate strong in week one of the Chase with a dominating performance at Dover, proving that things aren’t always as they seem. Up until Sunday, Bowyer had never finished higher than 24th at Loudon and came into the Chase as an underdog. But now that he’s vaulted up eight places in the standings, people are suddenly taking notice. They should be on the lookout again this weekend, as well; in his three Dover appearances, Bowyer has an average finish of 11th to go along with two straight eighth place finishes.

Martin Truex Jr.:
This week marks the series return to the track where Truex scored his first career Cup victory. After starting off the Chase strong with a fifth place finish Sunday, Truex and Co. have to be feeling good about their chances of not being forgotten in the title hunt. With six straight Top 15 finishes, including four Top 10s, Truex certainly didn’t back his way into the Chase. Now, Dover could be the big weekend the team is searching for as they try to complete the series sweep and continue their climb up the standings.

Tony Stewart: Over the past nine races, it’s hard to find a driver that has been hotter than Stewart. With no finish lower than 13th in that span, Stewart currently sits third in the Chase standings after one week. But while he has been hot lately, one place where Smoke has struggled at recently is Dover. After winning there twice in 2000 and racking up 11 Top 10s in his first 12 starts, he has cooled at the Monster Mile in recent years. In his last five performances, his highest finish is 15th, and Stewart was 40th here in June, mainly due to his run-in with Kurt Busch. But now that the pressure is on, look for Stewart to get back on top of his game in Delaware this weekend.

Matt Kenseth:
Once again this year, consistency has been the key to Kenseth’s success. He only has one win – at Fontana in week two – but his 17 Top 10 finishes have kept him in the game. After hitting a mini-slump, he has racked up three Top 10s in the last five races, and things look promising to get number four this weekend at Dover. In the last three events at the track, he has three Top 10s, including a win and a fifth place finish in June. Kenseth might not make a big splash in the Chase early, but you can bet he’ll be there when it gets to crunch time.

Carl Edwards:
With his 42nd place finish at Richmond, you might think Edwards had fallen into a slump after his win at Bristol. But think back to the fact that he was leading that race when his engine let go, and you know this team is far from falling off the pace. Edwards did drop in the standings after his 12th place finish at New Hampshire; however, that ground could be easily made up at Dover, a track where he has finished second and third in the last two races.

Kyle Busch: Despite a few rocky finishes, the soon to be JGR driver has run fairly well over the second half of the season. He’s got just as much a shot as anyone to win this championship, and with three Top 10s in the last three races, Busch is working hard to keep pace with his current teammates. After a fourth place finish at Loudon, he moved up four positions to fifth in the standings, and now stands 35 points behind Johnson and Gordon. Dover potentially could be a stumbling block for Busch, though, who hasn’t finished higher than 17th there in the last two races.

Denny Hamlin: After being on a roll in the early parts of August, Hamlin has cooled off in the last four races; he’s scored just one Top 10 finish, and that came at Richmond…not at Loudon. His 15th place finish there was uncharacteristic for a driver who had run so well in the CoT races prior, winning the last event held at the track in July. His team scratching their heads, the No. 11 bunch could possibly run into a similar situation at Dover this weekend. All signs point to a probable strong finish Sunday, as he has an average of 8.0 at Dover; including a fourth place finish in June. But the team needs to shake off the cobwebs in order to take that step forward.

Jeff Burton:
Burton has posted back-to-back 18th place finishes, which just won’t cut it if he wants to make a serious push towards his first Cup championship. No question about it, the No. 31 team is in a serious rut; they hasn’t posted back to back Top 10s since mid-July, and now that he’s already 91 points behind the leaders in the Chase, Burton will have to step up his efforts soon before a comeback is out of reach. Dover has the possibility of being a track to springboard his efforts, though. Not only is Burton the defending winner of the race, but he was a respectable 12th here back in June. That’s exactly the kind of finish he needs to improve upon.

Kevin Harvick:
Following a strong Top 10 run at Richmond that solidified his position in the Chase, Harvick went back to the mediocre finishes that had him sweating things out for the final position in the Top 12. His 17th place finish in New Hampshire was good enough to bump him up one place in the standings; but that was more a product of a poor finish by another Chaser…not from Harvick running well. Now 88 points behind, another hill to climb is forming in front of the No. 29 team, and the concrete monster at Dover is looming large ahead of them. With an average finish of 17.8 and finishes of 32nd and 20th in the last two races there, it could be a long ten weeks for this team.

Kurt Busch: Busch entered the Chase as one of the hottest drivers on the circuit, but he was the first driver in the Top 12 to find trouble when his Miller Lite Dodge suffered carburetor problems at Loudon. You have to give the No. 2 team credit, though; they worked on the car all day long and were in position to steal a decent finish had a late caution flag come their way at Loudon. But as things stand, Busch dropped seven places to last in the Chase, falling 102 points behind the leaders. The team came back from quite aways back to make the Chase in the first place, but do they have it in them to pull the comeback off a second time? Dover will surely test their resolve given Busch’s 20th place average finish there, the lowest among the Chase contenders. With the memory of the Tony Stewart run-in still fresh in everyone’s minds from June, the Miller Lite Dodge better be on its best behavior come Sunday.

So, will one of the rookie Chasers be able to steal the show again this weekend? Can Clint Bowyer or Martin Truex, Jr. pull off their own versions of an encore? And will the tie between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finally be broken? We’ll just have to wait until next week to find out the answer to these mysteries, getting an update on Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase to the Championship.

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Who's Hot / Who's Not OUTSIDE The Chase : New Hampshire Edition
frontstretch.com

NASCAR’s playoffs may be full steam ahead – but that doesn’t mean the other 31 drivers stop racing each week. Whether they’re building momentum for 2008, out there fighting for a job, or just infused with the plain ol’ desire to win, each one has something to strive for as the races wind down. It’s a chance to make up for lost time, stealing the spotlight from this year’s title contenders while looking for a little late season hardware of their own. These drivers know there’s pressure of a different kind; after missing the playoffs, their futures could depend on proving to fans, the media, and their current team they’ve still got what it takes to compete at the sport’s top level.

So, which one of the non-Chasers is in the best position to spoil the championship party at Dover? Read on to find out who in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not… outside the Chase. One note before we begin…unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not…which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).

Hot

It’s now a little over two weeks since J.J. Yeley’s future was settled for 2008; he’ll be leaving the comfy confines of Joe Gibbs for their satellite operation, Hall Of Fame Racing, right down the road. It’s an easy transition for the Arizona native, and it’s showed; since that announcement went public, what was the most high-profile free agent left on the market appears to be both refreshed and relaxed behind the wheel. Sunday’s 10th place finish for Yeley gave him back-to-back Top 10s for the first time in his two-year Cup career, moving him back up to 19th in points and in position to climb even higher over the rest of the season.

“We want to win a race before the year is out, that’s the main goal,” said Yeley about his focus for the rest of 2007. “But at the same time, if we continue to finish in the Top 10 we’ll peck away at the guys in front of us in points, and it would be cool to get back into the Top 15 before the year is out.”

I don’t know about a win…but a Top 15 finish in points is certainly within the realm of possibility here.

Ryan Newman has had his share of problems this year…but New Hampshire clearly wasn’t one of them. Running within striking distance of the leaders all day long, Newman came home 9th to score his 11th Top 10 finish of the season – that’s one more than teammate and Chase for the Championship competitor Kurt Busch. If it wasn’t for some nasty luck earlier this year, Newman would be right alongside the No. 2 car in the championship; however, four DNFs were the culprit in a year that has seen the team make great strides back towards respectability.

Looking ahead to Dover, though, it’s a great chance for Newman to turn the momentum into a long-sought victory. He won the pole here in June and went on to finish second; taking the checkered flag this time around would end a winless drought that’s lasted since September, 2005 at Loudon. With the way the team has been running lately…don’t count him out.

Warm

Greg Biffle has now gone two straight seasons without making the Chase – that’s not what you’d have expected from the 2005 championship runner-up. But New Hampshire wasn’t all that bad a race for the No. 16 car; a 13th place finish there continued a streak of five Top 20s in the last six races for Biffle and his team. Considering how far behind Roush Fenway has been in Car of Tomorrow development, a Top 15 is a solid achievement for the program. Just don’t try and convince Biffle the vehicle’s the right one to use for the sport; one of its most outspoken critics, he spoke up again after Sunday’s event, claiming passing was near impossible in a race that resembled a single-file parade. Still, his disgust hasn’t stopped a gradual uptick for the program, so expect a similar type of solid performance to head Biffle’s way this Sunday.

Cool

Just a couple of weeks ago, Bobby Labonte was moving and shaking his way up the ladder in the Nextel Cup standings. With new crew chief Doug Randolph on board, two consecutive Top 10 finishes at Michigan and Bristol left him surging back towards the Top 15 in points, and fans were left thinking new chemistry was all the No. 43 team needed to head back towards the top of the final results sheet.

Well, the “honeymoon phase” for driver and crew chief has since worn off. In the last three races, Labonte’s fortunes have slowly taken a turn for the worse: 11th at California, followed by a 16th at Richmond and a 22nd last Sunday in New Hampshire. In the background looms talk of a possible merger and/or alliance with Gillette Evernham Motorsports, a distraction that threatens to cost the team as they head towards the end of 2007. Dover is a crucial place for this team to turn it around; otherwise, all that summer momentum they built will officially crumble as the season changes to Fall.

Cold

As the battle for the 35th and final spot in owner points has heated up, it’s the No. 22 driven by Dave Blaney that has cooled right off. The two teams in front of them haven’t exactly been running well, but Blaney’s Toyota has been downright dreadful, with four consecutive finishes outside the Top 30 keeping them from a “locked in” spot each weekend. This time around at New Hampshire, it was the rookie Regan Smith that gave Blaney the most damage, spinning him into the wall in turn 2. That was one of two spins for the Caterpillar Camry on the day – a far cry from the success the team had in June, when Blaney brought Toyota its first career pole.

Speaking of Toyota teams that are struggling, it’s hard to even gauge your temperature when you can’t even make it into the race each weekend. But that’s exactly what’s happening with Dale Jarrett. While Jarrett continues to maintain he’ll return to the Michael Waltrip Racing operation he’s driving for next season, that’s increasingly hard to believe as the DNQ list for the 1999 Nextel Cup champ keeps piling up. Friday’s qualifying was the third time in the last five races the No. 44 UPS-sponsored car was too slow to make the field, with Jarrett spending the rest of the weekend in the comfy confines of the ESPN Broadcasting studio. While rumors persist he’ll be headed there permanently sooner rather than later, it’s notable that Jarrett’s on-track DNQ list rose to ten for the season; in comparison, even Darrell Waltrip never missed more than seven races in his final years on tour. So, it’s obvious there’s some serious bugs to figure out at MWR, and sponsor UPS simply can’t be happy with the overall performance.

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NASCAR Betting - Clint Bowyer’s Romp Means Little This Week
By D.S. Williamson

As a NASCAR bettor, don’t get too excited about Clint Bowyer’s romp in New Hampshire this past Sunday. Sure, he dominated, but if you paid close attention to the race, you would have seen that Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart, drove exceptionally well.

The point is that the Nextel Cup Chase is still firmly in the corner of those three drivers and no matter if a young driver like Bowyer got hot in the first race of the Nextel Cup Chase, two of the Big 3, Gordon and Stewart, are still the ones that you will want to look at when making your BetUS match-up wagers come this Sunday.

The key, for you as a NASCAR betting fan, won’t be whether or not Bowyer wins again, but whether or not there is a favorable match-up with the top 3 versus Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr. or Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR Odds will hopefully determine how you wager, but there are a few drivers out there that you should not, under any circumstances, think about placing a wager on.

The first is Kyle Busch. Even though Kyle made a great run in New Hampshire, the thinking here is that he won’t be able to sustain that run for two straight weeks. Kyle looked good out there and didn’t make some of the dumber driving mistakes that he has made in the past. Still, it’s impossible for me, as a NASCAR bettor, to recommend him unless you get very good odds and get Kyle in an excellent match-up. He’s still too much of a cowboy for me to offer a wager on. That is, unless he is in a match-up with… Matrin Truex, Jr.

Truex, Jr. ran a terrific race in New Hampshire as well, but the chances of him putting in another terrific run are doubtful. He, like Busch, should fall back to the pack and therefore is a good bet against this week in BetUS NASCAR match-up wagering.

Clint Bowyer had his day in the sun. The hope is that the BetUS match-ups actually have Bowyer going up against Gordon or Stewart. That would be money in the bank!

Another driver that you need to pay attention to as a bet against is Jimmie Johnson. By the looks of his run in New Hampshire, Johnson may be playing it safe these next few races, just making sure that he is in the top-ten, and then trying to steal a few races later in the Chase. He’s a great driver and is actually my pick to win the Nextel Cup, but in match-up betting he looks like an iffy proposition - - at least for the next few races.

Closely watch the BetUS match-up bets regarding both Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Without a doubt, they have fire under their hoods and in their brains. These guys are definitely going for the win next Saturday and they are a favorable match-up, depending on odds, against anyone else in the field.

Jeff Gordon, in particular, looks very, very tough. He did the right thing on Saturday, holding position once Bowyer got the huge lead. No use pressing when it’s the first race of the Cup Chase.

But, don’t wait before jumping on Gordon. A win is right around the corner; maybe as early as this coming Saturday. Whatever the BetUS match-ups are, expect Gordon to come through.

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The Chase at Dover: How the drivers measure up

SCENEDAILY.COMOf the 12 drivers competing for the Nextel Cup championship this season, seven finished in the top seven spots at New Hampshire International Speedway. Now, they head to race No. 2 with Jimmie Johnson leading Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon only by virtue of having more wins (six compared to Gordon's four).

Each of the drivers has 5,210 points after the first race of the Chase For The Nextel Cup.

Here's a look at the 12 and how they measure up at Dover International Speedway, site of this weekend's Dodge Dealers 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race:

1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: Johnson, 31, has 28 career Cup wins. This season, he has six wins, 14 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes with an average finish of 12.7. Johnson has led in 15 of 27 races this season for a total of 966 laps at the front. He finished sixth at New Hampshire, but remains atop the standings. At Dover, Johnson has three wins, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes for an average finish of 11.7. He was 15th at the track in June and has led six of 11 races for 553 laps.

2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: Gordon, 36, has 79 career Cup wins. This season he has four wins, 16 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes with an average finish of 8.0. Gordon has led in 18 of 26 races this season with a total of 1,033 laps at the front. His second-place finish at New Hampshire moved him into a points tie with Johnson, though he is second by virtue of having two less wins. At Dover. Gordon has four wins, 13 top-fives and 18 top-10 finishes and has earned the pole position three times. His average finish there is 12.4. He finished ninth at the track in June and has led 17 of 29 races there for 2,19 laps.

3. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet: Stewart, 36, has 32 career Cup wins. This season, he has three wins, 10 top-fives and 19 top-10 finishes for an average finish of 11.9. Stewart has led in 18 of 27 races for 929 laps. He finished third at New Hampshire. At Dover, Stewart has two wins, nine top-fives and 11 top-10s for an average finish of 10.7. He finished 40th at the track in June and has led in 10 of 17 races there for a total of 1,066 laps.

4. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: Bowyer, 28, earned his first career Cup victory at New Hampshire Sunday. This season, he has one win, three top-fives and 13 12 top-10s with an average finish of 14.3. He has led in 10 of 27 races for 306 laps. At Dover, Bowyer has two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 11.0. He finished eighth at the track in June and has led in one of three races at the track.

5. Kyle Busch, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: Busch, 22, has four career Cup wins. This season, he has one win, seven top-fives and 15-top 10s. Busch's average finish this season 13.6, and he has led in 14 of 27 races for 295 laps. He finished fourth Sunday at New Hampshire. At Dover, Busch has three top-fives with an average finish of 13.2. He finished 17th there in June and has led two of five races at for 112 laps.

6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet: Truex, 27, has one career Cup win. This season, he has one win, six top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Truex has an average finish of 15.3 and has led 11 of 17 races for 351 laps. He finished fifth at New Hampshire. At Dover, Truex has one win and two top-10 finishes with an average finish of 9.7. He won at the track in June and has led in one of three races for 216 laps.

7. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford: Kenseth, 35, has 15 career Cup wins. This season, he has one win, eight top-fives and 17 top-10s. Kenseth has an average finish of 11.9 and has led in 14 of 27 races for 288 laps. He finished seventh at New Hampshire Sunday. At Dover, Kenseth has one win, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes with an average finish of 14.2. He finished fifth at the track in June and has led in four of his 17 races there for 357 laps.

8. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford: Edwards, 28, has six career wins. This season, he has two wins, seven top-fives and 11 top-10s for an average finish of 13.3. Edwards has led in 10 of 27 races for 333 laps. He finished 12th at New Hampshire after crashing his primary car in practice. At Dover, Edwards has two top-five and three top-10 finishes with an average finish of 10.5. He finished third at the track in June and has led in three of six races there for 41laps.

9. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet: Hamlin, 26, has three career Cup wins. This season, he has one win, 10 top-fives, 15 top-10s and an average finish of 12.4. He has led in 13 of 27 races for 738 laps. He finished 15th at New Hampshire. At Dover, Hamlin has one top-five and two top-10s with an average finish of 8.0. He finished fourth there in June.

10. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: Harvick, 31, has 11 career Cup wins. This season, he has one win, four top-fives and 11 top-10s with an average finish of 15.6. He has led in nine of 27 races for 251 laps. He finished 18th at New Hampshire after suffering a pair of tire failures. At Dover, Harvick has two top-fives and five top-10s with an average finish of 17.8. He finished 20th at the track in June and has led in one of 13 races for 133 laps.

11. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: Burton, 40, has 19 career Cup wins. This season, he has one win, seven top-fives and 12 top-10s with an average finish of 13.6. He has led in six of 27 races this season for 28 laps. He finished 18th at New Hampshire Sunday. At Dover, Burton has one win, six top-fives and 10 top-10s with an average finish of 17.3. He finished 12th there in June and has led in eight of his 27 races there for 127 laps.

12. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge: Busch, 29, has 17 career Cup wins. This season, he has two wins, five top-fives and 10 top-10s for an average finish of 15.4. Busch has led in 15 of 27 races this season for 651 laps. He finished 25th at New Hampshire after having motor problems. At Dover, Busch has two top-fives and four top-10s with an average finish of 20.0. He finished 42nd at the track in June and has led in three of 14 races for 205 laps.

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Dover 400 preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com 

Clint Bowyer moved up eight positions in the Chase for the Championship after getting his first career victory at New Hampshire, the Chase’s first of 10 races.

Bowyer had been 40 to 1 and the longest shot of the 12 drivers to win it all. Following the win, Bowyer’s odds dropped immediately to 25 to 1. Positions shuffled throughout the top 12 except for the top 3 positions. Jeff Gordon tied Jimmie Johnson for the top slot followed by Tony Stewart who is 15 points behind. Incidentally, if Johnson and Gordon remained tied at the end of the season, Johnson would win the tie-breaker due to fact that has the edge on season wins.

This weekend’s race on the concrete Monster Mile of Dover will be the second race of the year there. Martin Truex Jr won the first race in dominating fashion. The win was a career first for Truex. On the same note, Bowyer’s win makes it four different drivers this season to win their first career race. Truex has already announced that the dominant car he won with at Dover in early June will be his primary car this weekend. Just another side note regarding Dover and drivers going for the sweep; three of the last seven years have seen the driver who wins the first race of the season there take the second one also.

When looking back at the June Dover race, the one thing that really sticks out with that race is the success of Ford in the race. Ford’s had struggled in the 5 previous Car of Tomorrow races but got the hang of things and placed three drivers among the top 6 finishers. Chevy is still dominating the COT races, but since then, things have improved for the Ford teams. Ford still only has one win in a COT, but that June Dover race really had a positive affect on Carl Edwards’ team. They finished 3rd in that race and later won on another COT race at Bristol.

Looking for candidates to win outside the Chevy camp is tough. Outside of the Roush group, the only team that can really say they have the COT figured out is the Dodges driven by Team Penske. Ryan Newman finished 2nd to Truex Jr in June’s Dover race. He really had the 2nd best car that day, but it’s possible they can take what additional information they have learned since then and make them just a little bit better. Newman comes in at around 12 to 1. His teammate, Kurt Busch, can be found at the same odds. Busch hasn’t been as good as Newman in the COT, but is always a threat.

TOP 5 Finish prediction:

1) #1 Martin Truex Jr (10/1)
2) #99 Carl Edwards (12/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
4) #20 Tony Stewart (7/1)
5) #24 Jeff Gordon (6/1)

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series hit Las Vegas

If looking for something fun to do this Saturday night, head out to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Truck race. The race starts at 6pm and the weather outside at that time is absolutely perfect. While you’re heading out to the track, be sure to stop by a Station Casino property or the Hilton Super Book and get a wager on the race. Mike Skinner is the 3 to 1 favorite followed by Ron Hornaday at 4 to 1, and then Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson at 6 to 1. Our favorite Truck series driver, Las Vegan Brendan Gaughan, comes in at 20 to 1. There only appears to be only 5 drivers that have a shot at winning this race. It’s the four odds on favorites already mentioned along with Travis Kvapil who is 8 to 1.

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Dover News and Notes
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com 

Selected Driver Highlights

Note: All driver statistics that follow are from Dover International Speedway. The Loop Data statistics – Driver Rating, Average Running Position, etc. – in this release, however, cover the last five races at Dover. NASCAR’s scoring loops began collecting data for statistical purposes in 2005.

Greg Biffle (No. 16 Nintendo Wii Ford)
• One win, two top fives, five top 10s
• 14.0 average finish
• Average Running Position of 7.4, second-best
• Series-best Driver Rating of 112.9
• Series-best Closer – 19 positions improved in the last 10 percent of races
• Series-high 178 Fastest Laps Run
• Fastest Green Flag Speed
• Series-high 1,851 Laps in the Top 15 (92.4%)
• Series-high 153 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the Top 15 while under green)

Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet)
• Two top 10s
• Average finish of 11.0
• Average Running Position of 8.7, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 98.8, eighth-best
• Eighth-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,072 Laps in the Top 15 (89.3), fourth-best percentage
• 97 Quality Passes for an average of 32.3 per race, best average of any driver
 
Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet)
• Three top fives
• Average finish of 13.2
• Driver Rating of 101.3, eighth-best
• 97 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
• Third-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,295 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), eighth-most
• 102 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
• Two top fives, four top 10s
• Average finish of 20.0
• Average Running Position of 10.3, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 97.9, 10th-best
• 80 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
• Ninth-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,563 Laps in the Top 15 (78%), fifth-most
• 120 Quality Passes, third-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford)
• Two top fives, three top 10s
• Average finish of 10.5
• Third-best Closer – 12 positions improved in last 10 percent of total laps
• Average Running Position of 12.7, 10th-best
• Driver Rating of 93.4, 11th-best
• 106 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
• 1,207 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), ninth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)
• Four wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles
• Average finish of 12.4
• 11th-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,202 Laps in the Top 15 (60%), 10th-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
• Three wins, four top fives, seven top 10s
• Average finish of 11.7
• Average Running Position of 12.3, eighth-best
• Driver Rating of 101.6, seventh-best
• 147 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
• Series-high 226 Green Flag Passes
• Sixth-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,453 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5%), sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford)
• One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 14.2
• Average Running Position of 7.7, third-best
• Driver Rating of 110.2, second-best
• 129 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
• Second-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 1,825 Laps in the Top 15 (91.1%), tied for second-most
• 151 Quality Passes, second-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)
• One win, two top 10s
• Average finish of 9.7
• Average Running Position of 12.0, seventh-best
• Driver Rating of 102.0, fifth-best
• 120 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
• Seventh-fastest Green Flag Speed
• 787 Laps in the Top 15 (65.6%), ninth-best percentage

At Dover International Speedway

History
• The official opening of Dover International Speedway (then called Dover Downs International Speedway) was in 1969. The track name was changed to Dover International Speedway in 2002.
• The first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race was held on July 5, 1969.
• There was one race in 1969 and 1970. There has been two-a-year since 1971.
• The track surface was changed to concrete in 1995.
• The first two races at Dover were 300 miles. The race length was changed to 500 miles in 1971 and then to 400 miles beginning with the second race in 1997.

Notebook
• There have been 75 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Dover International Speedway since the track opened.
• David Pearson won the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Bud Pole in July 1969.
• Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Ricky Rudd lead all active drivers, each with four poles.
• Richard Petty won the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Dover.
• There have been 31 different pole winners at Dover led by David Pearson (six). Qualifying has been canceled three times.
• Sixteen different active drivers have posted victories at Dover led by Jeff Burton (four).
• Bobby Allison and Richard Petty lead all drivers, each with seven victories.
• Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers, each with four victories.
• Rick Hendrick has won 10 races, more than any other car owner.
• Forty-five races have been won from a top-five starting position while only 16 races, including three of the past four, have been won from a starting position outside the top 10.
• The farthest back in the field that a race winner started was 37th by Kyle Petty in 1995.
• Ryan Newman won in June 2003 - the first victory for Dodge there since 1975. Newman repeated as the race winner in the fall race, the first time Dodge posted consecutive victories. Newman then won again in the fall of 2004, giving Dodge three of their five Dover victories in the four-race span.

Dover International Speedway Data

Race #: 28 of 36 (9-23-07)
Track Size: 1 mile
• Banking/Corners:  24 degrees
• Banking/Straights: 9 degrees
• Frontstretch: 1,076 feet
• Backstretch: 1,076 feet

Driver Rating at Dover

Greg Biffle 112.9
Matt Kenseth 110.2
Ryan Newman 105.8
Mark Martin 104.8
Martin Truex Jr. 102.0
Jimmie Johnson 101.6
Kyle Busch 101.3
Clint Bowyer   98.8
Kurt Busch   97.9
Jeff Burton   95.1
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2007 races (5 total) at Dover.

Qualifying/Race Data

2006 pole winner: Jeff Gordon (156.162 mph, 23.053 seconds)
2006 race winner: Jeff Burton, 111.966 mph, 9-24-06)
Track qualifying record: Jeremy Mayfield (161.522 mph, 22.288 secs., 6-4-04)
Track race record: Mark Martin (132.719 mph, 9-21-97)

Estimated Pit Window: Every 72-78 laps, based on fuel mileage

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Dodge Dealers 400 PreQ 

If there is one bad thing about finishing in the 6th position it is that the five drivers to finish in front of you are competing for the championship. That was the case last weekend as Jimmie Johnson come home in sixth place but lost ground to the competition in the Chase for the Championship. He does remain No. 1 atop the point standings but is now tied with teammate Jeff Gordon for the top spot. Johnson is looking to regain some of that ground at Dover International Speedway this weekend. He is the early week favorite as the series heads to the second consecutive speedway where he is averaging a 9th place finish in the last four starts including a win in 2005. Johnson is one of the better speedway drivers on the circuit and with Hendricks COT dominance you can expect to see all of the Hendricks boys to have a good day with Johnson paving the way.
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to make the Chase his teammate Martin Truex Jr. did not. Truex was not considered to be a contender for the championship but with one race down and another speedway on the schedule he could put himself in contention early. Truex won at Dover earlier this season while averaging a 12th place finish in 12 career starts. He has been performing even better as of late on the speedways however posting three straight top 5 finishes. Truex has some ground to make up but another strong showing this weekend could provide him the momentum and confidence to make a push for the title. Look for the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to be a contender for the win at Dover.

The first of the non-Chase participants to grace the PreQ forecast is Roush Racing’s Greg Biffle. Two years removed from nearly winning the championship himself Biffle has had a rough season. He has posted just seven top 10s with zero wins after having two wins and 15 top 10s last season. Biffle, however, has been running better in the second half of the season. He has recorded three top 10s and eight top 20s in the last 10 races. If not for some transmission problems at Richmond Biffle would be one of the hottest drivers in the second half. He should be able to keep the momentum going at Dover where he has posted three straight top 10 runs.

Kurt Busch was the unfortunate Chase participant to find troubles last weekend at NHIS. He had engine problems relegating him to a 25th place finish dropping him to 12th in the point standings. Busch is not overly eager to see Dover on the schedule either as he averages a 20th place finish in his career at the track. He had issues at Dover the last time the series was in Delaware running into Tony Stewart’s car on pit road and nearly injuring one of Stewart’s crew members. Busch was parked by NASCAR after the incident and came home in 42nd position. Busch can ill afford a mistake of that magnitude this weekend and likely will avoid all confrontations but there is still the fact that he does not run all that well at Dover. He has just four top 10s in 14 career starts at the track while averaging a 16th place finish in his last 25 speedway starts. Don’t expect a much better performance then we saw last weekend at NHIS.

A few weeks back J.J. Yeley learned he was losing his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing in favor of Kyle Busch. Yeley took it in stride saying it was the “nature of the business”. Yeley has already accepted a ride for the 2008 season with HOF Racing but is trying to prove that he was worthy of the ride at JGR. He has therefore went out and posted back-to-back top 10 finishes while moving into the top 20 in the point standings. Yeley, however, will have a tough task to handle at Dover where he has struggled in his young career. In four starts Yeley is averaging a lowly 33rd place finish. He has never finished in the top 20 at the track with three finishes being 30th position or worse. While the youngster has shown he has the ability to contend at the top level he still has plenty to learn. Avoid the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the Dodge Dealers 400.

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NASCAR - Nextel Cup - Dodge Dealers 400 Preview
The Sports Network

Date: Sunday, September 23rd

Start Time: 1:30 p.m. (et)

Site: Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware

Track: 1-mile banked concrete speedway

Laps: 400

Miles: 400

Race record: 132.719 m.p.h. (Mark Martin, 1997)

Qualifying record: 159.966 m.p.h. (Rusty Wallace, 1999)

2006 Finish

Defending champion: Jeff Burton

Runner up: Carl Edwards

Pole winner: Jeff Gordon (156.162 m.p.h.)

Top 10:

1. Jeff Burton (Start: 19)

2. Carl Edwards (6)

3. Jeff Gordon (1)

4. Kurt Busch (10)

5. Greg Biffle (8)

6. Martin Truex Jr (33)

7. Bobby Labonte (26)

8. Clint Bowyer (16)

9. Denny Hamlin (23)

10. Matt Kenseth (3)

Average speed: 111.966 m.p.h.

Time of race: 3 hours, 34 minutes, 21 seconds

Margin of victory: 7.955 seconds

Caution flags: 10 for 48 laps

Lead changes: 12 among 9 drivers

Notes
The Dodge Dealers 400 is the 28th of 36 races on the docket, as the Chase for the Cup continues this week in Delaware. Round two of the "Chase" will be staged at "The Monster Mile" at Dover International Speedway, as Jeff Burton defends his 2006 title.

Last season, Burton cruised to an almost eight second win over Carl Edwards, as he captured the 18th race of his Nextel Cup career. Burton led for only six laps, but it was the final six that led him to victory. Pole sitter Jeff Gordon finished third, while Matt Kenseth, who dominated the race, leading for 215 laps, finished 10th.

Clint Bowyer moved from 12th to fourth in the "Chase" standings after winning in impressive fashion last week in New Hampshire. In doing so, Bowyer became a first-time Nextel Cup winner. Bowyer became the 18th different driver to win a race in all three national series. He has five NASCAR Busch Series victories and one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win.

Back in 2005, Jimmie Johnson clipped teammate Kyle Busch by less than a second for his 17th career Nextel Cup title. Johnson, who took the checkered flag just 0.080 of a second ahead of Busch, won for the third time in 2005, as he led for 134 of the 404 laps. Pole sitter Ryan Newman finished fifth after leading for the first 30 laps. Kurt Busch, who started in the 10th position, led on five separate occasions for 192 laps, but placed 23rd.

The second starting position has been the most productive at Dover, producing 13 winners while the pole and the third position have produced 10 each. Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin each have four Dover victories. Gordon has not won in Dover since 2001, while Martin last tasted a win in Delaware back in 2004. Ryan Newman was the last driver to double at Dover in the same season, capturing both races in 2003. Tony Stewart (2000) and Jimmie Johnson (2002) have also accomplished this feat in the past decade.

Dover has seen seven consecutive different race winners, the longest such streak for the track. Since 2004, no driver has been able to win twice at Dover. That feat is noteworthy considering the two Dover races were swept by the same driver three times between 2000 and 2003.

The NASCAR Nextel Cup championship continues at the Kansas Speedway, Sunday, September 30th for the Lifelock 400, as Tony Stewart defends his title.

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Dodge Dealers 400 PreQ    
       
If there is one bad thing about finishing in the 6th position it is that the five drivers to finish in front of you are competing for the championship. That was the case last weekend as Jimmie Johnson come home in sixth place but lost ground to the competition in the Chase for the Championship. He does remain No. 1 atop the point standings but is now tied with teammate Jeff Gordon for the top spot. Johnson is looking to regain some of that ground at Dover International Speedway this weekend. He is the early week favorite as the series heads to the second consecutive speedway where he is averaging a 9th place finish in the last four starts including a win in 2005. Johnson is one of the better speedway drivers on the circuit and with Hendricks COT dominance you can expect to see all of the Hendricks boys to have a good day with Johnson paving the way.

While Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to make the Chase his teammate Martin Truex Jr. did not. Truex was not considered to be a contender for the championship but with one race down and another speedway on the schedule he could put himself in contention early. Truex won at Dover earlier this season while averaging a 12th place finish in 12 career starts. He has been performing even better as of late on the speedways however posting three straight top 5 finishes. Truex has some ground to make up but another strong showing this weekend could provide him the momentum and confidence to make a push for the title. Look for the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to be a contender for the win at Dover.

The first of the non-Chase participants to grace the PreQ forecast is Roush Racing’s Greg Biffle. Two years removed from nearly winning the championship himself Biffle has had a rough season. He has posted just seven top 10s with zero wins after having two wins and 15 top 10s last season. Biffle, however, has been running better in the second half of the season. He has recorded three top 10s and eight top 20s in the last 10 races. If not for some transmission problems at Richmond Biffle would be one of the hottest drivers in the second half. He should be able to keep the momentum going at Dover where he has posted three straight top 10 runs.

Kurt Busch was the unfortunate Chase participant to find troubles last weekend at NHIS. He had engine problems relegating him to a 25th place finish dropping him to 12th in the point standings. Busch is not overly eager to see Dover on the schedule either as he averages a 20th place finish in his career at the track. He had issues at Dover the last time the series was in Delaware running into Tony Stewart’s car on pit road and nearly injuring one of Stewart’s crew members. Busch was parked by NASCAR after the incident and came home in 42nd position. Busch can ill afford a mistake of that magnitude this weekend and likely will avoid all confrontations but there is still the fact that he does not run all that well at Dover. He has just four top 10s in 14 career starts at the track while averaging a 16th place finish in his last 25 speedway starts. Don’t expect a much better performance then we saw last weekend at NHIS.

A few weeks back J.J. Yeley learned he was losing his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing in favor of Kyle Busch. Yeley took it in stride saying it was the “nature of the business”. Yeley has already accepted a ride for the 2008 season with HOF Racing but is trying to prove that he was worthy of the ride at JGR. He has therefore went out and posted back-to-back top 10 finishes while moving into the top 20 in the point standings. Yeley, however, will have a tough task to handle at Dover where he has struggled in his young career. In four starts Yeley is averaging a lowly 33rd place finish. He has never finished in the top 20 at the track with three finishes being 30th position or worse. While the youngster has shown he has the ability to contend at the top level he still has plenty to learn. Avoid the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the Dodge Dealers 400.

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Top NASCAR Drivers Shine At Dover
paddocktalk.com

As was the case last week at New Hampshire, the best shine at Dover – except in one noticeable instance.

Though he started his Dover career with four consecutive top-five finishes (including a season sweep in 2000) and 11 top 10s in 12 races, Tony Stewart has struggled of late at the one-mile Delaware track. Over the last five races, his average finish is 26.2 (which does include 2006’s June Dover race where Ricky Rudd subbed for him after 38 laps and finished 25th).

Over the last five Dover races, he has notched a Driver Rating of 67.1, his lowest of any track on the series. Other Stewart statistics: 23.3 Average Running Position and 34.8% of his laps were in the top 15.

Aside from Stewart, Dover has been a welcome stop for Chase drivers – the other 11 are all in the top 17 in Driver Rating over the past five races and eight are in the top 11.

The best of the bunch is Matt Kenseth, who has four top 10s in the last five Dover races. He has the second-best Dover Driver Rating at 110.2 (behind teammate Greg Biffle’s (No. 16 Nintendo Wii Ford) 112.9), the third-best Average Running Position (7.7), 129 Fastest Laps Run (fourth-most) and has spent 91.1% of his Laps in the Top 15.

But two “dark horse” Chase threats could wind up winning at Dover. Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer came into the Chase ranked seventh and 12th respectively. Now Bowyer, who won the first Chase race at New Hampshire, is in fourth and Truex sits sixth. Both figure to be strong at Dover.

At Dover in June, Truex picked up his first career win and in three races there has a Driver Rating of 102.0 (fifth-best), an Average Running Position of 12.0 (seventh-best) and 120 Fastest Laps Run (fifth-most).

Bowyer has both history and momentum on his side. In three race at Dover, Bowyer ranks prominently, with an eighth-best Driver Rating (98.8), fifth-best Average Running Position (8.7) and 89.3% of his Laps in the Top 15 (fifth-best percentage).

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Hornish to attempt Nextel Cup debut again
SCENEDAILY.COM

After failing to qualify for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway last weekend, veteran open-wheel racer Sam Hornish Jr. is back in Penske Racing's No. 06 Dodge for this weekend's Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Hornish will again try to make his first Nextel Cup start, as the No. 06 team is outside the top 35 in owner points and does not have a guaranteed starting spot in Sunday's race.

"I'm really looking forward to Dover, especially after what happened last weekend," Hornish said. "I have a better idea now, and hopefully we won't let it happen again. My goal is to make the race and get as much seat time as possible."

Hornish, the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy Racing League champion, has made eight Busch Series starts for Penske. The team reportedly wants to run Hornish full time in Sprint Cup next season, but his plans have not been finalized.

Hornish is scheduled to run the four remaining car of tomorrow races this season: Dover, Talladega, Martinsville and Phoenix.

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Re: Dodge Dealers 400 News and Notes

Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps : Dodge Dealers 400

2007 Dover “2” Driver Handicaps

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won both Cup races at Dover in 2002, as well as this event in 2005. He has Top 10 finishes in seven of 11 Cup starts here – but has missed the mark the last two times out.

Jeff Gordon
– It’s a tale of two tracks for Gordon. On the plus side, Gordon has won at Dover four times, collecting 18 Top 10 finishes in 29 career starts. On the minus side, Gordon has crashed out of four of the last ten Cup races here.

Tony Stewart
– Here’s another title contender that’s inconsistent on the Monster Mile. Stewart won both Dover races here in 2000, with Top 5 finishes in nine of his 17 starts at the track. But oddly enough, he’s missed the Top 10 in the last five Cup races at Dover, crashing out of the last two.

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer has finished eighth in the last two Cup races at Dover, making it likely for him to keep the momentum gained from his first Nextel Cup win.

Kyle Busch – Busch finished second in both Dover Cup races in 2005, and was fifth here in the Spring event last year. But, he’s failed to match that success in his last two stabs at the white cliffs of Delaware, making him yet another unknown for Sunday.

Martin Truex, Jr. – Ever since Truex broke into the ranks of Cup winners with his Dover victory this Spring, it’s like he’s been a whole different driver. Now, he gets to come back and try the season sweep.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth won here in the Spring of 2006 and has Top 10 finishes in four of the last five Dover Cup races. Trivia buffs may recall Kenseth made his first ever Cup start at Dover in 1998, subbing for Bill Elliott whose dad had died that week.

Carl Edwards – Edwards finished second in this race last year and third at Dover this Spring after winning the Busch race.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin finished fourth here this Spring, which is an improvement from an already impressive baseline. Last year, he finished 11th and ninth in the two Dover Cup races, and is usually a threat with the CoT.

Kevin Harvick
– Harvick hasn’t been particularly strong here. He’s got just two Top 5 finishes in 13 Cup starts, putting up an average finish of 18th in those races.

Jeff Burton
– Burton won this race last year to snap a winless streak that seemed to have started when the crust of the earth was still cooling. He hasn’t finished worse than 12th in the last five Dover Cup races overall.

Kurt Busch
– This hasn’t been a great track for Busch, who is averaging a 20th place finish at Dover in 14 career starts. This Spring, Busch was parked for his actions on pit road after a well-publicized clash with Tony Stewart. Finishing 42nd, the run didn’t help his average nor popularity any.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
– Junior scored an emotional Cup victory here in 2001, as NASCAR racing resumed after the 9/11 tragedy. But after 15 Cup starts here, he’s averaging a 17th place finish. In fact, Junior hasn’t managed a Top 5 at Dover since 2004, although he did score two Busch Series wins here.

Ryan Newman – In 11 Cup starts at Dover, Newman has won three times and finished in the Top 10 a total of eight. He’s averaging an eighth place finish in those 11 starts.

Casey Mears
– Mears isn’t getting it done at Dover. After nine starts here, he’s averaging just a 24th place finish.

Greg Biffle
– Biffle struggled here early in his career, but has Top 10 finishes and a win in the last five Dover Cup events. He’s also won here twice in a Busch Series car.

Bobby Labonte
– Labonte won here back in 1999, but in the last eight Dover Cup events, he has just one Top 10 result.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray finished second here in the Spring race of 2006, but after nine Cup starts on the one-mile oval, he’s averaging a 16th place finish.

J.J. Yeley – Yeley has been hapless in his four starts at the Monster Mile. His best result here is 25th, and he’s averaging a miserable 34th place finish. You’d have to really work to make that average worse.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya finished 31st here this Spring in his only Dover Cup start. I don’t think they have tracks like Dover in Columbia, though…

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Fantasy Picks 'N' Pans: Dover Edition

The Chase is on! With one week officially in the books, there wasn’t much movement at the top of the Nextel Cup standings; Chasers actually took home seven of the Top 10 spots at the one-mile oval up in New Hampshire. While there was one notable exception – Kurt Busch’s bad carburetor cost him a lot of ground to the rest of the Chasers – the experience of previous years held true once again as the playoffs began. As the old saying goes, the cream always rises to the top, and the Chase contenders proved to be the ones most capable of running up front with the pressure of a title on the line. More than ever before, cars that are running for the Championship increasingly become your best bet for fantasy teams when it comes to picking cars that will finish up front; if you have any extra money under your salary cap or points in your pocket, now’s the time to spend it on as many Chase drivers as you possibly can.

With the playoffs moving full steam ahead towards round two this weekend, the strategy for your team shouldn’t change all that much. While the Monster Mile has been known to cause damage to its fair share of race cars, it usually doesn’t take too much of a toll on Chase contenders. One or two will most likely take a hit, but the majority will be near the front and finish in the Top 15 or better. Which ones have that extra leg up on the rest of their playoff competition, though? Find out in this week’s edition of Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans.

Cami’s Race Rewind:

After going 175 races without a win, Jeff Burton finally made his way back to Victory Lane with a win in last year’s Fall race at Dover. Burton raced with former Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth over the final 20 laps of the race before taking the lead for good with six laps to go. The pass proved to be a moot point when Kenseth ran out of gas just two laps later; he sputtered home as the first car off the lead lap in tenth. Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, and Greg Biffle rounded out the Top 5 finishers. On the Chase front, it was a rough weekend for Kevin Harvick; the point leader was looking for his third straight win, but saw his hopes dashed when his engine let go with a handful of laps remaining. He wound up 32nd in the final running order, losing the top spot in the standings to RCR teammate Jeff Burton. Chasers Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch had their share of problems, as well. Kahne was involved in a lap 11 wreck with Tony Stewart and slumped to 38th, while Busch’s blown motor and 40th place finish forced him to proclaim, “we’re done.”

Mike’s Keys to the Race:
The Monster Mile at Dover is a self-cleaning, concrete race track with 24 degrees of banking in the corners and nine degrees of banking on the straightaways. When a crash occurs, the carnage slides quickly from the top of the track; this makes multi-car wrecks a frequent occurrence, as cars often collect unsuspecting victims on their way down. The fact that the surface is concrete also makes the difference between the haves and have nots more noticeable. The track surface is more consistent and less temperature sensitive, so if a team hits on the setup at the beginning of the race, they are more likely to hold that advantage throughout no matter what adjustments other teams make. With teams already struggling to make tweaks on the Car Of Tomorrow as it is, keep an eye on qualifying Friday if you have that extra time to pick your team; starting up front could prove critical for a car that’s been tough to pass with in recent weeks. Also, expect the teams that were strong in the Spring to pull a repeat performance; DEI and Penske should be up near the front, with CoT juggernauts Gibbs and Hendrick not too far behind.

Mike’s Picks:

Crank ‘Em Up:


Martin Truex, Jr. is a former winner at the Monster Mile, the only track on the schedule where he can make that claim for Nextel Cup. Dominating the race there this Spring, there shouldn’t be too many obstacles in play to keep DEI’s lone Chase participant from pulling a repeat performance. With its concrete surface, Dover doesn’t change too much from the Spring to the Fall; so, it’s a good bet that he’ll be running near the front again this weekend. With the momentum that Truex is carrying from last week in Loudon, it’s a safe bet he’ll have a very real shot at sweeping the season series at Dover.

Ryan Newman was better than 41 cars in the Spring race at Dover, but that 42nd car proved too tough to handle; Martin Truex, Jr. was simply in another zip code when it came to the performance of his car. But Newman has always run well at Dover, sweeping the season series at the track back in 2003. With his impressive run during the Spring race, expect Newman to once again be near the front of the pack this time around.

Sit ‘Em Down:

Elliott Sadler is once again the GEM driver to sit this Sunday. With an average finish of 19.8 at Dover – including three straight runs outside the Top 15 – don’t expect the No. 19 to fare any better this weekend. GEM and Sadler have simply not had it together all year long, and it’s once again a safe bet they’ll finish in the middle to the back of the pack.

Kurt Busch had a pretty rough start to his 2007 Chase last weekend at Loudon, where he finished 25th and lost nearly 100 points to the rest of the title contenders. But that pales in comparison to Kurt’s luck at Dover this Spring, where his ill-handling car got together with Tony Stewart’s ill-handling attitude to cost him 100 points and nearly his spot in the Chase. Now, Busch comes back here looking to build some momentum, but this is clearly not the track in which to do it; he has an average finish of just 20.1 at Dover, with only one Top 15 finish there in his last four races. While the Chasers tend to finish at or near the front, this is probably a good weekend to look elsewhere in the Top 12 to pick your cars to start.

Roll The Dice:


Greg Biffle has to break out of this slump at some point in time, doesn’t he? If that’s finally going to happen, Dover is a very good choice for him to pull it off. The Biff ran sixth there in the Spring and has three straight Top 10 finishes at the track. In fact, his last six starts in Delaware have all been Top 15 finishes, including a victory in 2005 that validated him as a true title contender. If you’re looking to find some value this weekend, this is a great, cheap driver who could very well score a Top 10, if not a Top 5 finish.

Cami’s Picks:

Crank ‘Em Up:


While a 15th place finish wasn’t exactly the way Denny Hamlin wanted to start the Chase, it was a solid start to build a run on. This weekend at Dover, Hamlin should be poised to make a bigger move up the standings. With a career average of eighth at the Monster Mile, Hamlin has shown he can get it done on concrete – and we all know how well he runs in the CoT. Look for him to perform better than 15th this weekend.

Despite posting a 42nd place finish at Richmond, Carl Edwards has been strong over the last four races, heading to Dover looking to get back into the Top 10 after a 12th at New Hampshire. He dropped four places in the standings because of that, but he’s still in the thick of the title hunt. Another strong showing at Dover would go a long way to keeping him there; Edwards was second in this race last year and third in the CoT event at Dover back in June.

Sit ‘Em Down:

J.J. Yeley may be riding high from scoring two straight Top 10 finishes, but his record this year has shown he hasn’t been able to keep up that momentum for long. Dover will likely be the concrete wall that puts an end to that streak. It seems like no one has a lower average finish at Dover than Yeley, who hasn’t finished higher than 25th there in four career starts. He may have been running well the last two weeks…but please, jump off the bandwagon before it crashes.

Another driver who can’t keep any positive momentum going is rookie Juan Pablo Montoya. After he scored a second place finish at the Brickyard, he went back to his typical mid-pack results and hasn’t been close to a Top 10 since. The CoT hasn’t been this team’s Cup of Tea this year, either, which should cause Montoya fits in only his second Dover appearance. He could only muster a 31st place finish here in June, and that’s not giving me a lot of confidence things will change this time around.

Roll the Dice:

Mark Martin took another race off at Loudon, but the four-time Dover winner should come back with a good run this weekend. In his last seven starts at the track, he’s piled up five Top 10 finishes, never winding up lower than 14th place. He even has a seventh place finish in the Car of Tomorrow event held this June. I know he’s been idle, but don’t let the off week scare you; Martin is batting .500 when it comes to scoring Top 10s this season, and he still has both the drive and desire to do well. Look for him to grab another good finish from the clutches of the Monster Mile this weekend.

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Dodge Dealers 400 HOT! Sheet    
       
At the very top of our sheet this week are several names that you’d expect because of their recent success such as Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Martin Truex. However, this time we’d like to focus on a few names that aren’t the hottest commodities on the market, but have definitely seen their stock rise. For example, one of the top five in our list below is Casey Mears. On average, he’s finished in the top 15 over the course of the last 9 races. Another illustration of his consistency is the fact that he sits right at 15th in the points report. He came from the rear of the field to finish 13th back in June here, so look for another nice effort this Sunday.

Another pretty good fantasy value lately has been David Ragan. The rookie driver sits in our top 10 this week thanks to an average finish of about 11th in the last 3 events. At California he weaved his way through the field from a 33rd starting spot to place 12th. He followed that up with his best performance of his young Cup career when he started 8th and ended the night 3rd at Richmond. Then last week the team again made the right adjustments throughout the race and watched him drive from 38th up to a respectable 19th. He had a very solid top 15 run at Dover back in June, so you may want to consider him for your roster.

Not too far from him on the chart this week is J.J. Yeley. Although he is a lame duck in the #18 green machine, he is showing why Hall of Fame racing snatched him up quickly for next season. Earlier this season he earned his first career pole position that locked him in to the Shootout in February. Fresh on his resume are back-to-back top 10 showings. If the team can just work on qualifying a little more (36th at Richmond and 21st at New Hampshire) results might even be a little better. He is certainly worth a look this weekend.

A team that has been totally opposite of that has been that of Elliott Sadler. They seem to be one that knows what it takes when they’re all alone on the racetrack during time trials but can’t seem to get it going on race day. In the last 5 events, his average starting position is 9.6, including 4 top 10s. However, in all 5 of those races Sadler has failed to finish on the lead lap with his best finish coming at Bristol but was still 3 laps down in 29th. He hasn’t stayed on that lead lap in his last 3 trips to the Monster Mile, so we’d leave him alone.

Also near the bottom of the sheet this week is David Stremme. It was recently announced that he is officially a free agent as he is being booted from the #40 car next season, and the numbers would indicate one of the reasons why. He only has 2 top 10s all year with his best coming at Talladega way back in April when he crossed the line 8th. In the 18 races since then he has finished inside the top 20 only 3 times. He’s coming off of a second-to-last place showing last week, so obviously we can’t recommend him.

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Driver Handicaps: Dover

This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway for the Dodge Dealers 400 - the 13th Car of Tomorrow event of the 2007 season. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 400-lap event.

Who's Hot at Dover

Martin Truex Jr. won the first Car of Tomorrow race at Dover in June after leading 216 laps from the 26th starting position.

Dover is Ryan Newman’s best track based on finishing average (8.4).

Four-time winner Mark Martin leads all drivers with 19 top fives at Dover.

Matt Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts at Dover, including a win in the 2006 June race.

Greg Biffle has the best driver rating (112.9) in the last five races at Dover.

Four-time winner Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with 2,198 laps led at Dover.

Jeff Burton, who won this event last year, has a 7.0 average finish in his last four starts at Dover.

Keep an Eye On at Dover

Denny Hamlin has led the most laps (629) among all drivers with the Car of Tomorrow.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be racing the same car that posted a combined average finish of 6.0 in the two races at Bristol.

Tony Stewart has the best average finish (10.7) among all drivers that have made 12 or more starts at Dover.

Clint Bowyer, who is riding the momentum of his New Hampshire win, has finished eighth in his last two starts at Dover.

Jimmie Johnson has three wins and seven top 10s in 11 starts at Dover.

Kyle Busch has three top fives in five starts at Dover.

Kasey Kahne will return in the same chassis that he scored his best run of 2007 with at Bristol.

COT Performers

Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in starting average (9.2) and finishing average (5.3) among the drivers that have competed in all 12 Car of Tomorrow races. Gordon's teammate Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with three wins. Denny Hamlin has also been strong in COT competition by winning one race (New Hampshire), leading an impressive 629 laps and posting an average finish of 8.8. Among drivers with three or more starts - Carl Edwards (Ford), Ryan Newman (Dodge) and David Reutimann (Toyota) hold the best average finish among their manufacturers at 12.8, 14.4 and 29.1, respectively. David Gilliland has the worst average finish among all the drivers that have made every COT start at 32.8. COT Driver Averages | COT Lap Leaders

Dover Rookie Report


David Ragan is the only Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate that has made two NEXTEL Cup Series start at Dover International Speedway. In his Cup Series debut, Ragan finished 42nd after he crashed his No. 06 Ford and fell out of the race on lap 47. He was able to turn around his performance in June when he was the top finishing rookie in 14th. Rookie leader Juan Pablo Montoya finished 31st and AJ Allmendinger finished 33rd. Paul Menard and David Reutimann failed to qualify for the race. Rookie Standings

Qualifying Tidbits

With the exception of this race last year when Jeff Gordon won the pole, only Ryan Newman and Jeremy Mayfield have won the pole since 2003 at Dover International Speedway. Qualifying in June of 2005 was rained out along with the 2003 fall race. Three years ago in the June event, Mayfield established the new track qualifying record of 161.522 mph when he drove the No. 19 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports. Rusty Wallace was the last driver to win a pole in a Ford, which came in the fall of 2002. Gordon's pole last fall was the first by a Chevrolet since 1996 when Bobby Labonte took the top spot. Only 16 of 75 races have been won from a starting position outside the top 10, most recently coming in the last three races with Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Martin Truex Jr. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of New Hampshire Winners

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings


1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 5210): In 2002 at Dover International Speedway, Johnson swept the season after leading a combined total of 358 laps. He captured his third win at the track in the 2005 fall race after leading 134 laps from the fifth starting position. In the 2006 June event, Johnson had an eventful weekend after multiple incidents that started with a spin in qualifying. In the race, he started 42nd and quickly found himself a lap down after a mid-race accident. In the end Johnson was able to rally back to finish sixth - his seventh top 10 in 11 starts at Dover. This weekend Johnson will race the same car (chassis No. 433) that finished 15th in June at Dover.

2. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: --): Gordon will be making his 30th start at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. With four wins at the track, he is tied with Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott for the most wins among active drivers at the track. He last won on June 3, 2001 after leading 381 laps in the race. Gordon leads all active drivers with the most laps led at "The Monster Mile" with 2,198. Overall, Gordon has finished in the top five 13 times and the top 10 18 times and has started on the pole three times. Since recording two DNFs in 2005, Gordon has gone on to post two top 10s, including a ninth-place run in June with the Car of Tomorrow.

3. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: - 10): Stewart has yet to finish inside the top 20 in his last three starts at Dover International Speedway. In the 2006 June race, Stewart was credited with a 25th-place finish after Ricky Rudd relieved him under the first caution on lap 38. Stewart was unable to compete in the demanding race after he fractured his right scapula the weekend prior in Charlotte. In the last two races, crashes have taken him out of the race, including a 40th-place finish in June. Prior to 2005, Stewart posted two wins (both in 2000), nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. His average finish (10.7) is the fifth among all active drivers and he is fourth in laps led with 1,066.

4. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: - 40): With his win last weekend at New Hampshire, Bowyer lowered his finishing average to 11.7 with the Car of Tomorrow. Like many others, Bowyer will make his 13th start with the new car at Dover International Speedway where he has finished eighth on the last two occasions. Last year Bowyer picked up his first win at the "Monster Mile" when he won the September Busch race.

5. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: - 35): Busch's finishing average at Dover International Speedway took a hit last year in this event after the engine in his No. 5 Chevrolet expired near the halfway point of the race. The 40th-place finish dropped his average to 12.2 after finishing fifth or better in his three previous attempts. His average finish now stands at 13.2 after a 17th-place finish with the COT in June.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: - 40): Truex Jr's win in June at Dover marked the first of his NEXTEL Cup career. He won the event after leading 216 laps from the 26th starting position. The finish was his second top 10 in three starts at the track.

7. Matt Kenseth. (Points Behind: - 54): Kenseth captured his first win at Dover International Speedway in the 2006 June race after leading 83 laps from the 19th starting position. Sunday will mark Kenseth's 18th start at the one-mile oval dating back to 1998 when he made his first NEXTEL Cup start after stepping in for Bill Elliott. Along with his victory, Kenseth has recorded 10 top-10 finishes and one pole, which was the first of his career. This weekend Kenseth will return in the same car (chassis RK-473) that finished fifth in June at Dover.

8. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: - 63): Last year in this event Edwards scored his best finish (second) in six career starts at Dover International Speedway. He was able to follow that up with a third-place finish in June for his third top 10 at the track. This weekend Edwards will pilot the same car (chassis No. RK-474) that finished fifth at Darlington in May.

9. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: - 82): Hamlin will be making his fourth NEXTEL Cup start at Dover International Speedway this weekend when he goes after his third consecutive top 10 at the track. Hamlin's worst Dover finish came after he battled back to finish 11th after falling a lap down because of a tangle with Jeremy Mayfield on pit road. He was able to make the lap up and was one of 21 drivers to finish on the lead lap.

10. Kevin Harvick
(Points Behind: - 88): In the 2006 June race, Harvick captured his best finish (third) at Dover International Speedway after a gas only pit stop late in the race. The finish was his fifth top 10 at "The Monster Mile." Harvick's only other top-five finish came in the fall race in 2003 when he led 133 laps en route to a fourth-place finish. That event marked the only time Harvick has led in 13 starts at Dover. This weekend Harvick will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 206) that raced to a 17th-place finish last weekend at New Hampshire after suffering two flat tires.

11. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: - 91): Burton scored his best finishes with Richard Childress Racing in five races at Dover International Speedway in 2006 after finishing fourth in June and winning the fall race. The victory ended a 175 NEXTEL Cup race winless drought. This past June he finished 12th. Prior to his Dover races with RCR, Burton captured eight top 10s with Roush Racing dating back to 1996. This weekend Burton will climb into the same car (chassis No. 196) that most recently finished 12th last month at Bristol.

12. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: - 102): Sunday's race will mark Busch's 15th start at Dover International Speedway. In his three starts with Penske Racing he has finished 16th, fourth and 42nd, respectively. His three additional top 10s came with Roush Fenway Racing - the team he has led all his Dover laps (205) with. This weekend Busch will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis PSC-518) that competed in both road course events this season.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points: 3074): Earnhardt Jr. is making his 16th appearance at Dover International Speedway. He won his only race at the track in September 2001. In addition to his win, Dale Jr. has three top fives and six top 10s at the one-mile track. He has led in eight races for 366 laps. In the 2003 fall race he started second - after rain cancelled qualifying - and then went on to lead 48 laps before posting his only Dover DNF. After qualifying fourth in the 2005 fall race, a loose wheel in the beginning of the race ruined Junior's chance of a good finish. On Sunday, Junior will pilot the same car (chassis No. 051) that finished seventh and fifth, respectively, at Bristol.

14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind 13th: -41): Newman has put together a pretty impressive record in his 11 starts at Dover International Speedway. In the last nine races, Newman has captured three wins and has led 807 laps. His last and eighth top 10 came this past June when he led 135 laps en route to a second-place finish. Three of Newman's four Dover poles have come in the last four events. Newman's last win at Dover came in this event in 2004 when he dominated the race leading 325 laps on his way to his only win in The Chase. This weekend Newman will be driving a new chassis (PRS-523) in the Dodge Dealers 400.

15. Casey Mears (Points Behind 13th: -229): In June, Mears finished 13th in his first start at Dover International Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports. His only top 10 at the track came in 2005 when he finished 10th with Chip Ganassi Racing.

16. Greg Biffle (Points Behind 13th: -230): Biffle scored his first and only win at Dover International Speedway in the 2005 June race. In that event he started second on points and led for the first time at Dover for a total of 150 laps. Since the victory, Biffle has finished 13th or better, including three consecutive top 10s. He qualified a best fifth in his first outing at the track in the 2002 fall race. Biffle, who also has two Busch Series wins at Dover, will race a brand new car (chassis No. RK-508) that the team shook down last week at the Talladega test.

17. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind 13th: -321): Labonte made his first NEXTEL Cup Series start at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 1991. Since then, Labonte has competed in 29 more races at "The Monster Mile" capturing one win (1999), three poles, 11 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. The last time Labonte led a lap was in the June event back in 2003 when he led 34 circuits of a track total 143. His best finish in three track starts with Petty Enterprises came in this event in 2006 when he came home seventh. In June, he started third and finished 18th.

18. Jamie McMurray
(Points Behind 13th: -409): McMurray's best finish at Dover International Speedway with Roush Fenway Racing came in his first track start with the team in 2006. In that event he led 95 laps en route to a second-place finish, which is his only top five at Dover. His other two top-10 finishes came in two of his six starts with Chip Ganassi Racing. This weekend McMurray will be back in the same car that finished 24th last month at Bristol.

19. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind 13th: -434): Dover International Speedway is Yeley's worst 1-mile track based on finishing average at 33.5. His best finish in four starts came in this event in 2005. On Sunday, Yeley will return in the same car (chassis No. 160) that most recently finished 13th at Bristol.

20. Juan Pablo Montoya (Points Behind 13th: -501): Montoya finished 31st in his first NEXTEL Cup start at Dover International Speedway. In that event he battled a tight race car and electrical problems after starting 16th. This weekend he will look to turn around his luck at Dover by making his seventh start in chassis No. 731. This car's best finish came last month at Bristol in 17th.

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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Dover 400 Picks
by Christopher G. Shepard
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Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart joked last Sunday that the closest they were able to get to Sylvania 300 winner Clint Bowyer was when he burned doughnuts after the race and ran out of gas forcing him to walk to Victory Lane from his disabled car. Even though Clint Bowyer acted like he'd never been there before, it's hard to fault his infectious enthusiasm, as he hadn't been to Victory Lane in a Nextel Cup Chase race before Sunday.

Bowyer was the only driver in 63 previous Cup races never to place higher than third, let alone win a race. Seeded No. 12 in the Chase and set at 9/1 odds by the bookmakers to win (slightly better odds than the field at 15/1), Bowyer's Jack Daniels No. 7 car sat on the pole, only his second in his career, and led the race for 222 of the 300 laps. His win catapulted him from 12th to fourth place in the Chase standings.

This Sunday NASCAR rolls down to the Monster Mile in Delaware for the Dover 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway with Hendricks Racing tandem of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson tied at the top of the Chase for the Nextel Cup leaderboard.

There is only 15 points that separates Bowyer from first place. It's quite likely, though, that this might be as close as he gets to the top. But for now Bowyer is 10 points behind third-place Tony Stewart and just 15 back of Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. It seems only fitting that Hendricks Racing teammates are tied for the Chase lead heading into Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

One thing is eminently clear from Bowyer's win at Loudon, as we roar into NASCAR's second stop of the post-season at the Dover 400, is that past performance is not really indicative of how a driver will do in their next race. And speaking of next races we'll turn our attention to the Dover 400 and hopefully have a better result picking the winner as out of our two picks to win the Sylvania 300, Denny Hamlin finished 15th and Kurt Busch (who dropped to 12th place in the Chase) finished 25th.

Who will win the Dover 400?


In last weekend's high-octane crapshoot, no one was more surprised than I (except perhaps the man himself) to watch Bowyer cruise to a relatively easy victory at Loudon. Bowyer averaged 110.475 mph, won by 6.943 seconds over Gordon and Stewart, and took home $259,175 for his effort.

Last Sunday Chase drivers took the top seven positions at Loudon, but the gap from first to 12th widened from 60 to 102 points.

While six drivers have notched wins at the Monster Mile, these are the only drivers to have mulitple victories at Dover with Gordon winning four, Johnson winning three, and Stewart winning twice. Keep in mind, though, No. 6 seed Martin Treux, Jr. won the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover by 7.355 seconds this June followed by pole sitter Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin in third.

Does that mean lightning will strike twice for the Bass Pro Shops driver? Not likely, with a Chase field as wide open as it is right now. To say it is important for for both Gordon and Johnson to do well is an understatement, but it is not mandatory for them to win to win the Chase. Remember Johnson didn't start out quickly last year as he was in eighth place with six races to go. As for Gordon, he'll be racing on sponsor DuPont's home track and nothing pleases a sponsor more than winning at home. Gordon's last win at Dover was in 2001 and he hasn't won here in 21 consecutive races since then.

Last year's defending champion, Jeff Burton, 11th in the Chase and 91 points back of the leaders, is always a threat, and indeed has done well at Dover with six top five finishes. Whether he can repeat as Champion remains to be seen, but there are 11 other drivers that will do their best to make sure that won't happen. Certainly, handicapping the Chase for the Nextel Cup is anyone's Chase to win. However, I don't really see someone not in the Chase winning at Dover. The key at Dover is for the Chase contenders to avoid trouble. And while I think Gordon, Stewart and Johnson are the sexy picks, I have to go with my gut on this one and look to Carl Edwards to rebound from last week's accident and having to race his second car at New Hampshire. Carl Edwards does well on the concrete tracks and look for him to use what he learned at Bristol and bring it to Dover as he bests Gordon and Stewart for the win. Odds for the winner of this race are listed below.

Pick! No. 99 Carl Edwards (10/1)

NASCAR - DOVER 400 - Odds to Finish in the Top 3

If we can learn one thing from the Sylvania 300 it's that the Hendricks Racing tandem of Johnson and Gordon will be a fight to the finish. Despite not finishing in the top three at Loudon, Johnson's sixth place was good enough to keep him tied with Gordon in the points lead for the Nextel Cup after one race. Jeff Gordon, who started out 18th, and Tony Stewart, who started in sixth, eventually edged out Stewart for second place. However, neither challenged Bowyer for the win. I see Gordon and Stewart in this scenario again for the Dover 400. Rather than fighting for second this time it could be for the checkered flag.

I don't expect Bowyer to win back-to-back races or even end up in the trop three (bounce theory) as I look at Sportsbook.com's odds for the driver to finish the Dover 400 in the top three. For my bet to cash, the driver I select will have to finish in the top three. And after last weekend I can't see not backing either Jeff Gordon (finished in the top five 11 times at Dover) or Tony Stewart (in the top five nine times at Dover) at 9/5 odds. Chances are pretty good they'll both end up in the top three. Having learned my lesson last week courtesy of Kurt Busch, I am on…

Pick! No. 24 Jeff Gordon (9/5)

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