Who Will Win?
Mark Martin: The same approach used in taking an unscathed car to victory lane at Darlington a few weeks ago will reward Mark Martin again at Dover. Martin has repeatedly proven to have the perfect balance of speed and discipline to successfully tackle NASCAR's toughest tracks, and this week he conquers Delaware's "Monster Mile." – Ricky Craven
• I'm backin' the old dude. Throw out Charlotte – please – and what you have is Martin riding a heck of a hot streak. He and crew chief Alan Gustafson are absolutely dialed in together now, and Martin's had success at Dover before. The Chase is a near certainty for Martin, and with a few more runs like we've seen in recent weeks, nobody will be laughing at the old guy's championship dreams any longer. – Jay Busbee
Ryan Newman: There's a good argument to be made that right now Ryan Newman is running better than anyone else in the Sprint Cup Series. He's the only driver to finish in the top five in each of the last four races – which is also twice as many top 5s as he had all of last season. The only thing he hasn't done is win, but that will change Sunday. – Jay Hart
Three thoughts, by Ricky Craven
1. Be predictable in traffic: Passes at Dover need to be quick, precise and without contact. Timing your pass is critical at this track because the speed requires drivers to drift to the wall in the corner exit. It's easy to make contact trying to pass too quickly or aggressively. Even slight contact with another car often leads to an early end to your day at Dover.
2. Manage tires on long green runs: Dover races tend to spread the field quickly because of the high speeds. As the cars spread around the concrete mile, the probability of a long green-flag run increases, bringing tire wear into play. A driver's ability to move around the race track in the corners, transition from the bottom lane to the middle or high lane, helps extend the tires' life. The ability to do this may not be just the difference between winning or losing.
3. Manage pit road: Green-flag pit stops are extremely difficult at Dover. Drivers have to slow quickly and drop suddenly from the high banking of the track to far less banking on the apron, and then effectively slow to the allowed pit-road speed. This is not a smooth transition and doing it in a matter of a few seconds without getting hit from behind, losing control on the apron, or speeding at pit-road entry are all distinct possibilities.
Top story line
• All Dale Earnhardt Jr. all the time. Rick Hendrick finally pulled the plug on the Earnhardt-Tony Eury Jr. combination, replacing Eury with Brian Whitesell for one week, then handing the reigns to Lance McGrew the following week. Both have been with Hendrick Motorsports for years, though in far less visible positions. That will change immediately. – Jay Hart
• Can David Reutimann carry the momentum from winning his first career Sprint Cup series race to Dover this weekend? Reutimann has shown enough speed in 2009 to back up his Coca-Cola 600 win, but can he maintain composure and avoid being overconfident at a track that can quickly punish a driver for being overly aggressive? – Ricky Craven
• The first race of the Dale Jr. 3.0 Era begins. Okay, so Tony Eury Jr. is gone, but the target still remains squarely on the No. 88 team. Nobody expects Dale to win immediately – it would be a painful twist of the knife to Eury on the way out the door if he did – but without Eury there, the 88 team loses one more "justification" for their poor performance. If Junior continues to struggle, the excuses get flimsier. All eyes will be on Junior this weekend – it's what NASCAR wanted, but probably not in this way.
. – Jay Busbee
From The Source
Clint Bowyer: "At some of these mile-and-a-half tracks, you're only as good as the equipment and you really don't have much of a say so. At places like Bristol, Dover, Daytona and Talladega, you have to make things happen. If the car isn't handing, you can pick up your end of the deal and make something happen."