As we enter week three of the Chase, it’s usually at about this time when we starting seeing some separation of the contenders from the pretenders. So, here’s a look at who should contend at Dover Sunday afternoon.
Top 5 Picks
1. Jimmie Johnson – He’s got seven wins on the concrete mile and won the June race here earlier this year, wearing that rainbow-colored wig in Victory Lane. Wig or not, don’t be surprised to see him there again late Sunday afternoon. He has led 1,069 of the last 2,000 Sprint Cup laps run at Dover.
2. Matt Kenseth – He’s one of the few drivers who have been able to challenge Johnson at Dover in recent years. He also needs a win if he wants to have any hope of contending for the title as he is in 11th place, 35 points behind Johnson.
3. Greg Biffle – Much like his Roush Fenway teammate Kenseth, he needs a win to get back into the title picture. He’s won twice at Dover, so maybe he can give it a shot.
4. Kyle Busch – He’s had a frustrating year with several engine woes, then missed the Chase. But he ‘s still capable of winning at any of these Chase tracks.
5. Jeff Gordon – OK, so no other driver really sticks out here. However, if Gordon, who is 12th and 45 points behind Johnson, gets a win, maybe it would be the beginning of an epic comeback to get him back into the Chase picture, just like the rally he had to make the Chase. He does four have career wins at Dover, though none in the last five races there.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda: Tony Stewart – He used to be good at Dover in his early days in the Sprint Cup cars as he has two wins there. But Stewart has struggled in recent years, including consecutive 25th-place finishes in his last two races there. However, he’s also known for doing the improbable, so I wouldn’t count him out Sunday.
Here’s a look at how last week’s picks fared in Week 2 of the Chase at New Hampshire
Jimmie Johnson – 2nd. Was pretty good all day, just not as good as the winner who was …
Denny Hamlin – 1st. A dominating performance that put him right in the title hunt.
Tony Stewart – 7th. He didn’t have his best day, but was respectable enough.
Clint Bowyer – 4th. He needed a good run to keep realistic title hopes and he did it.
Ryan Newman – 10th. Though he’s not in the Chase, he fared OK at one of his best tracks.
46 Top 5s
65 Top 10s
Grade for the week: A. I gave you the winner, three of the top four and five of the top 10. Wish I could do that every week.
One last thing: Among active drivers, Jeff Gordon has led the most laps at Dover at 2,291. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has led 2,275, so he could surpass Gordon for that honor Sunday.
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