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Last Updated Monday, Oct 4, 2010 1:35 am, EDT

Race Capsule

Dover International Speedway
  • What:

    Race 28 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Dover International Speedway, Dover, DE

  • When:

    September 26, 2010 1:15 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    400

  • Track Length:

    1. miles

  • Race Length:

    400.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,121,544

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson Johnson dropped four positions and is sixth in the standings, 92 points out of first place. Dover has been Johnson's kind of track ever since he swept both races in 2002, his rookie season. He also swept both contests in 2009 and that, combined with his victory in this race in 2005, gives the four-time Cup champion five wins, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 17 starts. He won this race last year and was 16th in May, his first finish out of the top 10 at Dover in five races. "Dover has been such a good track for us, it gets us really excited as a team that we can hopefully run where we should and run up front and collect a lot of points, lead a lap or lead some laps and get off to a fast start in the Chase," Johnson said. "We're hopeful for that, but if it doesn't happen then we'll spin it in a way that says in '06 you didn't need to and there's still hope and there's still nine races and it probably drives all of you crazy, the positions we take week after week. We've got to give ourselves hope somehow. Dover was my first big track that I ran in ASA and sat on the pole, led a bunch of laps and had a puncture with the tire and took me out of it. Nationwide, loved it. Cup career, have loved it and won a lot there. It is a place, though, that if something goes wrong and ... outside of the spin I had in qualifying, you're going to hit something. You can spin like a top down the front stretch, but I'm just glad I didn't hit anything. It will eat you up. I'm going with what I know and going to continue to drive the car as I always have, and Dover is a track that I just love driving. I'm looking forward to it and am going to go in there with that mindset and try to put the fear out of my mind and go for a win."
AJ Allmendinger Admittedly, Dover is not Allmendinger's best race track by any stretch. In seven starts there, the former California open-wheel ace has just one top-10 finish (seventh there last fall). In the spring race this year at Dover, 'Dinger qualified eighth and finished 14th. "Dover is a challenging track, but it's really fun to race on and I'm excited to be headed there this weekend," Allmendinger said. "We ran well at Dover in the spring, but we had some issues on pit road and that cost us. ... Still, I was encouraged by the way we ran throughout the race, and I'm looking forward to getting back to that track."
Martin Truex Jr. Dover is both Truex's "home track" (he grew up in adjacent New Jersey) and his favorite Sprint Cup track as well (it's the site of his only Sprint Cup victory). "It's a track that has been very good to me and my family," Truex said. "I won races there in both the Nationwide and Cup Series events. Back in May (last spring), I won the pole with my NAPA Auto Parts team, and that was pretty cool (finished 12th). ... Since the first time I took a lap on it, I have loved the place. When you find a track like that, it usually makes it easier to be good there. I like the fact that the concrete is very unforgiving."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin, who has a 45-point lead after one race in the Chase, has two top-five finishes and three top-10s in nine starts at Dover but has not won there. He was 22nd in this race last year and fourth in May. The latter broke a five-race streak in which he had finished outside the top 21 there. "The number in which I hope to run just moved up like five spots," Hamlin said of the challenge heading into the second race of the Chase. "So that's just what we have to do. And it's not that we just run bad at Dover every time, it's just every time I went there, I either wrecked or broke something or ran terrible. So with the exception of the spring, that's about the only good run I've had there, so, yeah, we do shift our expectations based off of this week."
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya has qualified well at Dover, with two starts on the outside pole and a third start in third place, but his finishes there have been a different story. Sure, he finished a career-best fourth there last fall, but then he returned this spring to record a 35th-place showing, the second-worst finish of his career in seven starts there.
Greg Biffle Biffle, who dropped one position to eighth, 108 out of the lead, has won two races at Dover, June 2005 and September 2008. He has six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 16 starts there, including five top-fives and eight top-10s in his last nine starts. He was 13th last September and sixth in May. "Dover is one of my favorite places to go," Biffle said. "I have a couple wins there and a bunch of top-fives. I am looking forward to going back there. I think we ended up in the top-10 in practice there. Hopefully (we will) grab a top-10 qualifying spot. I think we have the same opportunity as all these guys here this weekend. A lot of people have asked me who my pick is or who the favorite is besides me. You have to put all the names in a basket and draw one out because it is a lottery draw at this point to me. I couldn't pick one guy over the other for who I think is going to win this thing. It is as close as I have ever seen it, competition-wise. You look at the speed charts on the weekend and where everybody is running, it is going to be like that for 10 weeks. I think it is going to be the guy that has the least amount of mistakes or the least amount of damage. Damage control on the race track will be a big part -- the guy that salvages a 13th-place finish somewhere where things are going bad versus finishing 23rd or worse is what is going to be the guy that wins it ... the guy that can minimize the downside versus winning four or five of these things."
Jamie McMurray Dover has not exactly been one of McMurray's more successful tracks -- he has zero wins and just one top-five finish (runner-up in spring 2006) in 15 starts. He has struggled quite a bit since then, particularly his last four starts there: 36th, 14th, 28th and 32nd.
Kurt Busch Busch, who remained fifth in the standings, 86 out of the lead, is looking for his first Dover win and has just four top-five and six top-10 finishes in 20 starts there. He was fifth in both 2009 races and 19th in May. "You can't focus too closely on one guy per week," Busch said. "I think that you have to look at a group of guys over a few weeks' time. I look at the Chase as being broken into three, six, nine (races), and then you have the final Homestead race. If you're in position at Homestead, that's when everything is crazy. The first three races, I just kind of group them together and hopefully we finish in front of half of the Chase field and find ourselves in good position. But if a guy goes out and wins these first three (races), you have to change your game plan because you have to keep up or you're going to get left behind."
Paul Menard Menard enters Sunday's race in 23rd position, where he ranked going into New Hampshire. Menard has made six starts at Dover, his best effort coming one year ago when he started 10th and finished 19th -- his only top-20 finish there. He started 23rd and finished 21st at Dover in May.
Kyle Busch Busch, who moved up one spot to third in the standings, 62 points out of the lead, is a two-time Dover winner -- in June 2008 and in May, when he started fourth and led 131 laps. Those are two of his six top-five and six top-10 finishes in 11 starts. He was 31st last year, the last of a string of bad Dover finishes that included a 43rd in September 2008 and 23rd in June 2009.
Ryan Newman One day, don't be surprised if they rename Dover International Speedway in Ryan Newman's honor. Why? The driver of the No. 39 has just dominated the one-mile banked oval in Delaware. In 17 career starts there, Newman has three wins, six top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and four poles and has an outstanding start (8.1) and finish (10.5) average there. His last three finishes have been eighth, 10th and 13th (in May). "I've always liked Dover. It's just a track that drivers like -- well, that I like. It's absolutely one of my favorite tracks, if not my favorite. ... The concrete (racing surface) provides a different type of racing for us because the track doesn't change a whole lot. Once you get your car right, you can keep it right for the rest of the race. ... To me as a driver, it's just a track that is a lot of fun and one that I look forward to going to each year."
Matt Kenseth After getting off to a disappointing start in the Chase at Loudon, Kenseth moves to Dover, a place where he has had great success, particularly since 2006. Consider: In his last nine Dover starts, he has one win, a runner-up, back-to-back third-place finishes (last fall and in May), two other fourth-place showings, a fifth and a 10th. "Dover is probably my favorite track that we race at, so I'm really looking forward to racing there this weekend," he said. "The track is fast and challenging and it's unique because of the way you drive up out of the turns."
Jeff Gordon Gordon, who jumped from eighth to fourth in the standings and is 75 points out of the lead, has four wins, 14 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 35 starts at Dover. His wins came in September 1995, both 1996 races and June 2001. He was sixth in this race last year and 11th in May. He has three top-10s in his last five Dover starts. "Right now, I'm only focused on making sure that we are a part of that factor when we get down to Homestead," Gordon said. "Right now, it's kind of hard to get excited about that when you are sitting here being eighth after being seeded second all year long. The only way we are going to go see what we have got is get through the first three or four races. There are a lot of tracks that I think we are really good at and there's a couple that we have to get better at. I think that we'll just have to wait and see. You want to try to get a few races in. You know that you're going to have a bad week. It seems like everybody always does. But you don't want to start it off that way because then that means you have to put nine really good ones together."
Kasey Kahne While Kahne spent his formative racing years on short tracks, Dover has not been hospitable to the former short-track ace in his Sprint Cup career. In 13 starts, Kahne has just three top-10 finishes, his best showing being sixth in spring 2009. He finished 20th at Dover in May. "Dover's one of those places that if you unload (the race car) and you're off, you can get better, but you'll never get to where you want to be," Kahne said. "On a race weekend here, your package needs to be close when you start practice or you'll never really get there for some reason. The key is having a car that can still handle well 30 to 40 laps into a run and staying out of trouble."
David Reutimann Dover was a challenge for Reutimann in his first five starts there, when he had finishes of 18th, 27th, 17th, 18th and 21st. But he finally broke through on the Monster Mile last spring, finishing fifth.
Joey Logano After slipping one spot in the standings to 22nd after New Hampshire, Logano returns to Dover with both incentive and motivation. The incentive: attempting to bounce back from his 42nd-place showing last fall at Dover after being involved in a multi-car wreck that included a scary end-over-end roll by Logano's car after impact. The motivation: He bounced back from last fall's disappointment to finish 10th in the spring race at Dover in May.
Tony Stewart Stewart dropped four points positions to 10th, 124 out of the lead. Stewart swept both Dover races in 2000 and has 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 23 starts there. He has finished ninth in his last two Dover starts and was second in the June 2009 race, giving him a string of three straight top-10 finishes. "Dover is a track that is kind of a two-phase deal," Stewart said. "It is easy to get your car too tight in the center trying to get it to drive up off the corner nice, and it seems like if you get it to rotate through the corner then it is way loose off. That's the two things that you really battle there. It is the sacrifice of which one do you want to be a little bit off to accomplish having a balanced car. (Getting out of Dover clean) is as important as the other nine that aren't Dover. It is one of 10. It is 1/10th of the equation. There's not going to be emphasis on one track versus another. We have to be set up for 10 races at 10 tracks. So that is what we are doing."
Jeff Burton Burton is ninth in the standings, 112 points back. His lone Dover victory came in September 2006, and he has seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 33 starts. He was 16th in both races in 2009 and second in May. "I think mental toughness is always important," Burton said. "It's easy when things are going well. You know what I mean? When things are going well, it's easy to be mentally tough. The question is when the chips are down, who is going to be mentally tough? The chips are going to be down for everybody at some point in this Chase, and those will be the defining moments in this Chase and who can come through those -- that's going to determine who the winner is. So I think mental toughness is real important and I think attitude is real important, and not for only the drivers but for everybody on the team. There has got to be a desire to win it. You know, everybody wants to win it, but the question is, who is going to sacrifice to win it and what are you willing to sacrifice and be willing to give up? And I feel like my group of people will give up just about anything to win this thing and I feel like I will too. Short of our integrity --we are not going to give up our integrity. But short of that we are willing to make a lot of sacrifices to do what needs to happen."
David Ragan Ragan and Dover International Speedway have not exactly been close friends, so to speak. In eight career Sprint Cup starts there, Ragan's best finish was 14th in June 2007. In his most recent outing there in May, he started 22nd and finished 26th, five laps off the lead lap. ... Dover is where Ragan made his Sprint Cup Series debut on Sept. 24, 2006. It was not a memorable start, to say the least: He qualified 37th and completed just 46 laps of the 400-lap event before his day came to an abrupt end with a crash.
Brad Keselowski Keselowski makes his second career Sprint Cup start at Dover. His first start there was in May, when he qualified 20th and finished 18th, two laps down from the leaders. However, he has tasted other success at Dover: In seven Nationwide starts there, he has one win, three top-five finishes and six top-10s. "I really think I am getting more and more confident on the Cup side," Keselowski said. "Dover is definitely a unique track for NASCAR. I love it. I think it's one of the best tracks that we go to. We always see a good race there, lots of side-by-side racing with drivers right on the edge. ... I think we would all like to see more unique tracks like Dover on the schedule."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt used to be strong at Dover earlier in his career while driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Not only did he win in September 2001, he also has three third-place finishes and three other top-10s. In an ironic twist, he finished third in his last appearance at Dover with DEI in September 2007. Since moving to Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt has recorded finishes of 35th, 24th, 12th, 20th and a disappointing 30th in this year's spring race there.
Kevin Harvick Harvick, second in the standings and 45 points out of the Chase lead, has not won at Dover and has only two top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 19 starts there -- but two of those top-10s were in his last four starts. He was 12th last September and seventh in May. "Dover is a cool race track," Harvick said. "It's fast, but there can be a wreck off of turn 2 that will swallow up 10 or 15 cars. We've been on both sides of that fence. We did run well there at the beginning of the year. Hopefully we can do the same thing when we go back. It's one of those race tracks that lets you know how fast you're going, not only when you're going around the race track, but if you happen to hit something. It's a fun race track, but it can eat you up pretty fast."
Mark Martin Martin is looking to salvage what has been a difficult year at best in the nine remaining races, and he couldn't pick a better spot than Dover. In 48 Cup starts there, Martin has four wins (tied for second among all tracks he has raced upon), 22 top-five finishes and 30 top-10s (as well as four poles). In the spring race this year at Dover, Martin qualified third but finished 15th.