Autism Speaks 400 Preview and Pick to Win

Race: Autism Speaks 400 Presented by Hershey’s Milk & Milkshakes
Date:Sunday May 16, 2010
Track: Dover International Speedway
Time:1 pm ET
Channel: FOX

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From the track that’s too tough to tame, we move on to the Monster Mile known as Dover! Last weekend’s race proved to be just as exciting as everyone made it out to be. There were a crazy amount of cautions, but the biggest news is probably to extremely poor finish of Jimmie Johnson. I know that there was a lot of rejoicing when Johnson caused his own incidents. For all of the Johnson haters, unite! He didn’t fare well and perhaps that’s karma for what he’s been doing to everyone else on the track lately. Regardless, the Monster Mile will show us if Johnson can redeem himself this weekend.

Dover is a true 1-mile oval with 24 degree bankins in the turns and 9 degree banking in the straights. the frontstretch and backstretch are both 1076 feet. This track can be treacherous. It lends itself to cautions because of the speed that the drivers can get on this short concrete oval. Generally, tire wear is a concern here because of the different surface. It’s definitely something for the drivers to keep their eyes on.

Another key point here at Dover is simply maintaining composure. Although it’s not the short track of Martinsville or Bristol, Dover has a personality of its own that tends to cause drivers to have a very short temper. With all of the cautions last week, I have a feeling Dover will mimic those numbers.

Jimmie Johnson may have had a bad weekend at Darlington, but he is the defending champ for both the fall and spring race here at Dover. This is definitely a place for him to redeem himself, but I wouldn’t count on him to be in victory lane. I think that there are too many other hungry guys out there who aren’t going to be quite as friendly as they used to be to Mr. Johnson. Kyle Busch, who’s always been one of those drivers, is where I’m putting my money. He’s had a strong couple of weeks, and Dover is just the track for someone like him to excel. He also has a previous win here and usually finishes strong.

I think that the Roush drivers are going to show some strength here as well. Concrete is one of the specialties of drivers like Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. They always excel on these surfaces and have several wins between them.

The problem with this year and picking someone off the Roush team is that no one driver has been very consistent. We haven’t seen Jimmie Johnson take off and win everything like the past couple of years. We certainly haven’t seen Carl Edwards dominate on the concrete tracks like he used to. In fact, week to week has been a bit of a crap shoot because there is just no one single dominating driver or even team for that matter.

This weekend, though, I think that Kyle Busch has the attitude that it takes to win on a track as tough and brutal as Dover. He’s been picking up some consistency and is coming off a strong few weeks.

Here’s a recap of your top 12 in the points after Darlington:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kyle Busch
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Greg Biffle
8. Kurt Busch
9. Jeff Burton
10. Mark Martin
11. Carl Edwards
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jr. has finally moved back into the top 12, but he’s only 16 points ahead of Martin Truex Jr. That’s someone you didn’t think you’d here about. Truex is doing really well with his new team. There’s a strong possibility that he could move into the top 12 this year and make a name for himself. Look for those guys from 18th and up to be battling. There are only 59 points between 12th and 18th place. Anything can happen, especially at the Monster Mile.