Race: AAA 400 Drive for Autism
Date: Sunday June 4, 2017
Track: Dover International Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
I think that the best part of the Coca-Cola 600 came after the race when they attempted to interview Kyle Busch. Now, we all know that Busch is a bit of a hot head. Its not really a surprise that hes got some sportsmanship issues as well. It sucks not winning, but Kyle Busch takes that to a whole new level. He actually did a mic drop concluding his approximately 13 second interview when he very disingenuously congratulated Austin Dillon on the win. I mean, honestly, how hard is it to suck it up and deal with losing? You obviously didnt put together the best race. If you did, youd be in victory lane. Acting like my 3 year old is really disconcertingcome to think of it, maybe this is why my 3 year old is a Kyle Busch fan! Maybe they can relate to each other and my boy just thinks that Kyle understands him since they act the same way!
But, I digress (although that previous point is pretty spot on!). Austin Dillon won the race on fuel strategy, beating out Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five spots. Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and Dale Jr. rounded out the top ten. Erik Jones stayed competitive throughout the entire race. He drove a very impressive race, in fact. Shoot, Jr. coming in 10th is a victory in and of itself for that team! Go Jr.! Some of the sadder stories of the day involved Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski. Id include Jeffrey Earnhardt in that group since he caused this massive incident, but he brings little to nothing to NASCAR these days. Something in that garage needs to give because he cant seem to manage to so much as complete a race. If you watch the replay of the accident, Earnhardt lost the rear end of his car, parts flying everywhere and gear oil spraying all over the track. Elliott ran into some of the parts, sparking a fire under his car. He came to a slow roll before Keselowski came barreling around the turn with nowhere to go, basically rear ending Elliott at least going 150-160mph. Keselowski and Elliott both walked off from the crash together, seemingly unharmed. That is a testament to the safety of NASCAR. I will give them credit when it comes to their safety initiatives. They do a very nice job in prioritizing driver safety.
This weekend, we are heading to a vastly different track than Charlotte. The Monster Mile, as it is affectionately known, tends to show us some pretty competitive racing. It races much like a short track in many ways. Dover International Speedway is a 1 mile concrete oval with 24 degree banking in the turns and 9 degrees on the straights. This banking creates some serious momentum for drivers to really flow in and out of the turns with minimal braking. This track has been around since 1969, with its inception as an asphalt track. It wasnt until 1995 that the track was resurfaced into a concrete one. This type of surface really places into tire strategy. The tires tend to wear, unevenly at best, leaving teams scrambling to find just the right formulation of tire strategy to edge out the competitors.
With that sentiment, we can only imagine that the drivers to beat here are the guys with the good history at this track. While the changes that NASCAR has implemented has changed our strategy on driver picks at a lot of the tracks, Dover is one of those places where I think some drivers are just tried and true with their experience. Namely, Im going to say that Jimmie Johnson is the number one driver coming to mind at this place. I mean, seriously, he has 10 wins here. Who does that? If theres anyone to beat, its going to be him. He will have some stiff competition, but Johnson should be able to hold on and get his third win of the season here. Lets take a look at your potential winners this weekend heading into Dover:
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Kyle Larson
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones
I know, its weird that Kyle Larson can be a B list driver still, but he is. He will earn his way onto the A list without a doubt, though. Hes just good. I dont even need stats to back him up. Its Kyle Larson. No more needs to be said. Erik Jones is coming off a very strong finish at Charlotte. Although he hasnt ever raced at Dover in this series, hes got one win and two top ten finished from the Xfinity series. Thats nothing to sneeze at. Jones is proving that hes the cream of the crop. Lets see how these drivers stack up in the points right now.
Get your wagers down on Virginia’s picks or take advantage of some juicy matchup odds at Bovada!
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Larson
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kyle Busch
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Chase Elliott
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Joey Logano
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
14. Kurt Busch
15. Matt Kenseth
16. Trevor Bayne
With this season under full swing, its awesome to see so many of the young drivers thriving and maintaining their positions in the top of the standings. Theres a lot to be said for consistency still, despite NASCARs new segment racing, so its really telling of how well these teams are doing together. Theres still a lot to learn from this new crop of racers, but they are certainly developing nicely. This weekend will be a fun race to watch. Johnson will have his hands full with competitors like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. As long as he can qualify well and stay up front, though, he should have his one in the bag. Stay tuned for a great day of racing at the Monster Mile!