Race: FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks
Date: Sunday June 2, 2013
Track: Dover International Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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If that wasn’t the weirdest Coca-Cola 600 I’ve ever seen, then I don’t know what is. We had multiple red flags, usually reserved for rain, multiple cautions, and just downright odd circumstances that ended with a victory for Kevin Harvick. One red flag came when the drive line on the FOX sports camera snapped and came across the track and even into the stands injuring 10 fans. Several drivers had pretty bad damage from the line getting caught on their cars. The worst of the damage seemed to happen to Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose. NASCAR officials actually made a great call by allowing the drivers time to make necessary repairs to their cars during the red flag. This was a very unusual circumstance because NASCAR rarely, if ever, will allow teams to repair cars under red flag conditions. Not only that, but drivers were allowed to line back up in the order they were in prior to the incident. That was a great call by NASCAR for an extremely weird situation that was out of the teams’ hands. All of the cautions and red flags caused the longest race of the year to be the longest race ever it seemed. The race went until near midnight, with several guys probably wishing it would end sooner. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jr., Danica Patrick and several other drivers really had a rough night of it. Both Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch lost power to their cars. After replacing his battery, Johnson ended up restarting in 10th position, which still put him in contention for the win; however, he ended up struggling and wrecking his car before the night was out. Kurt Busch also changed batteries and ended the night with a 3rd place finish, but that simply wasn’t good enough for him.
This weekend hopes to bring better luck to a large group of drivers who could really use it. It will be interesting to see how well it turns out, though, because the Monster Mile as it is so aptly named is rarely kind to everyone. Dover is a place where rookies and veterans both struggle. This track is one were track position is key. Just as we saw in Charlotte, tires played a huge role but track position seemed to mean the most. I think that it’s going to be more of a battle of track position this weekend, though. Guys here tend to pull away from the field.
Dover International Speedway is a 1 mile oval with 24 degree banking in the turns and 9 degrees on the 1076 foot stretches. Since 1995, Dover has had a concrete surface with it previously being an asphalt track from its inception in 1969.
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When we take a look at the past winners, it is interesting to note that the Roush drivers seem to favor this track. We see that Matt Kenseth is the defending champ from the Fall of 2011. Prior to him, there was a strong history of Jimmie Johnson and the Busch brothers dominating. Prior to that, there are multiple wins from Kenseth and Biffle and also a win from Edwards. What I am thinking this weekend is that we are going to see a strong presence from the Busch brothers. Although Roush has a strong history here, we haven’t seen much from them this year with the exception of Kenseth. He’s going to have a good shot, but I think that Charlotte has put a little bit of drive into both Kurt and Kyle that is going to push them to get to victory lane this weekend. It’s clear that they both have this place figured out. Ultimately, I believe that Kurt Busch is going to have the upper hand. He’s getting stronger and stronger week in and week out. It’s really only a matter of time before he gets his first win for this single car team.
Winner Prediction: Kurt Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Bet: Austin Dillon
The dark horse picks are slim pickings this week, but Dillon is starting the #51 car for Phoenix Racing. He’s such a strong Nationwide driver, so we will have to see if he can best his 21st place best Sprint Cup finish from Las Vegas. Martin Truex Jr. has a win at Dover and also considers this his home track, so it’s no surprise that he loves it here and really knows how to get around.
Charlotte left a lot to be desired for several drivers. As you will see, Gordon dropped yet again from the top 12 in the points. There were several adjustments on top of that one. Here’s the rundown after Sunday night’s debacle:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Paul Menard
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Kyle Busch
12. Aric Almirola
It’s interesting to see Kyle Busch in the danger zone back there in 11th place. I do think that Dover will help him move back up at least a couple of spots. Other guys should see similar results including Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Stay tuned for this weekend’s awesome race as we head to the Monster Mile on Sunday afternoon!