Despite not having that many passes for the lead, this was an exciting race. The multi-groove thing finally came into play late in the race, setting up a classic Dover dash for the lead with Matt Kenseth up high and Jeff Burton down low! Now, if we could just get TNT to take those commercial breaks earlier instead of ruining the flow in the last 150 laps every race!
6 – career poles won at Dover by David Pearson, the most of any driver.
As Jeff Burton pulled into victory lane on Sunday, winless monkey off his back and championship trophy suddenly within reach, it was hard to ignore the irony surrounding the end of his 175-race winless streak.
The Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware lived up to its billing this weekend, as the self-cleaning concrete speedway took a toll on both Chasers and Top 35 contestants alike. Three Chase contenders finished 30th or worse, but buried beneath that hoopla was that the remainder of the tail-end finishers, with the exclusion of Tony Stewart, were teams battling for the Top 35 in owner points.
For the first time since November 2001, Jeff Burton took the checkered flag in a Nextel Cup race, scoring the win in Sunday’s Dover 400 to put RCR on top for the third straight week. Winning for the first time in his last 175 tries at the Cup level, Burton’s quest for the checkered flag wasn’t easy – he fell back early in the race with a poor-handling racecar, then had to play it safe after watching teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer have their engines sour over the final 50 miles.
Passing leader Matt Kenseth on lap 179, Clint Bowyer held on over the final 25 laps to take his first Busch Series win of 2006 in overtime at Dover. Bowyer sailed out to a safe lead after getting by Kenseth, but for a while it looked like he might come up short again when he got tied up in lapped traffic, allowing Kenseth to climb right back up on his back bumper. It was actually a late caution for Martin Truex Jr. with four laps remaining to set up the green-white-checkered finish that actually worked to Bowyer’s advantage and sealed the win for him. With nothing but clean racetrack in front of him on the restart, Bowyer was once again able to dash off from Kenseth and take the win.
After a season of frustration, Mike Skinner finally broke through to score his first Truck Series win of 2006 Saturday night in the Smith’s Las Vegas 350. Taking the lead on the final restart on lap 126, Skinner held off Ted Musgrave by .309 seconds to score his first career victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mike Bliss, Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday rounded out the top five.
Rusty Wallace’s unofficial pet project has come to fruition, as this past weekend marked the official opening of Iowa Speedway. Rusty helped design the track, and was instrumental in securing the financing necessary to make the track a reality.
It just occurred to me that with all the things there are to complain about with the Busch and Truck series, (like Buschwhackers, really late start times, Buschwhackers…) they both have one really great rule (or lack of one): no Chase.
The Dover 400 is the 28th race on the 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule and the second in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. The Cup Series visits the 1-mile Dover International Speedway twice in 2006, having also run here in June.
So, as the grand poombah of NASCAR, what would I do? First and foremost, I would “tweak” the Chase… tweak it to the point that it no longer exists. When the new format was first announced, I held off on my judgment until the end of that year.
This Week’s Question: Can the first race in the Chase seal a team’s fate for the next nine races?