Odds & Ends Around the Track: Dover Spring
Dover International Speedway used to be a beast of a track with the unexpected accident changing the whole dynamic of the race because every wreck there could turn into a big one. In the last few years, the racing has gotten more ordinary, but just when you think Miles the Monster has been defanged, that is the moment when all manner of craziness happens. At least fans of today don’t have to live through 500 laps of this place like in the old days.
Will the Monster Be a Monster
We always hear drivers say that at Darlington Raceway, “You have to race the race track and not the other cars.” For many years, Dover was another place like that.
It wasn’t uncommon to see double-digit cautions for wrecks, not for stage-ends or debris. One year, Mark Martin was cruising along looking like he was on his way to an easy romp when a crash of backmarkers in front of him slammed the backstretch shut and ended his day.
Zipping around this high-banked, one-mile oval in 22 seconds, you don’t have time to avoid trouble. But in the last few years, the numbers of wrecks has dropped significantly. Three of the last five races at Dover have had five or fewer caution flags, and that included the two scheduled stops for the stages the last two seasons.
If NASCAR’s best don’t start messing up and wading up more cars at Dover, they might have to change the name of the “Monster Mile” to something tamer. Only two of the last 15 NASCAR Xfinity Series races there have featured more than six caution flags, so it makes me think there is something up with the tire choice that prevents guys from racing closer to each other. Will the Monster be a Monster or the Dover Dove? Tune in this weekend to find out.
Once again, this week NASCAR announced new rules for qualifying at speedways.
After trying over the past few years to turn the mundane task of time trials into a show all its own, NASCAR has been thwarted by clever crew chiefs who had the audacity to try to find a way to get the fastest time without putting on a show.
NASCAR has changed the rules as often as Talladega fans reach for aspirin on the Monday after a race weekend. They have tried tweaking the time allotted for the session. They have attempted to change the rules on how you can line up after leaving your pit box. But each time NASCAR tries something to liven up the show, the crew chiefs in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series find a way to be even more boring.
There was even one occurrence of the official qualifying times listed in the newspapers from coast to coast showing 0.000 miles per hour for the poll winner because all 12 drivers in the final round of qualifying failed to get to the start/finish line in time to start their lap. NASCAR, in its infinite quest to thwart the ability of crew chiefs to ruin its show, has adopted an old-fashioned way to conduct qualifying.
Welcome back single-car runs! Hopefully, this back-to-the-future approach will result in qualifying to run in a good, old-fashioned, boring story ending the never-ending story of qualifying rule changes for 2019.
Dover: Fantasy Insight
Flashback to Last Race Picks
Win: Aric Almirola-Finished ninth
Place: Brad Keselowski-Finished 13th
Show: Paul Menard-Finished 16th
Longshot: Kyle Larson (40 to 1 Odds)-Finished 24th
This week, I am going to thrill and amaze you with some stupendous statistics and an upset special of a pick at Dover. Leading the way in the Race Monitor Power Ratings is last week’s winner Chase Elliott with 187 out of a possible 200 points, but he is not my top pick. Second and third this week are teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. with 183 points each, but neither of these Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will be my top pick.
Quickly rising toward the top of the ratings is a driver who has never won before at the Cup level. Daniel Suarez is 0 for 82 at the Cup level, but his rating of 182 shows he is getting closer and closer to being in victory lane, and Dover has surprisingly been the best track during his brief career in NASCAR. Denny Hamlin is the only other driver topping 180 points, which has been the threshold for every winner so far this season.
Win: Suarez-(50-to-1 Odds) Will finally put it all together this weekend
Place: Elliott-On a nice roll and clearly outperforming the rest of the gang at Hendrick Motorsports
Show: Kyle Busch-Always a great bet to be in the hunt for the win
Longshot: Jimmie Johnson (20-to-1 Odds) Not as good of a bet as Suarez, but could improve here