Best Buy 400 fantasy NASCAR preview
by Bob Frykholm
on May 29, 2008 @ 06:31:03
Dover International Speedway is a one-mile concrete track. It's not a track that fits the criteria of a short track, nor does it share the medium distance of most of the intermediate tracks. The concrete surface, which differs from the typical asphalt, creates a challenge to the durability of the cars. The toughness of the track has lent to its name: The Monster Mile.
The track's banking also creates an individual identity. Its turns are banked at 24 degrees, but it is the straightaway, which is banked at 9 degrees, that offers challenge to the drivers. Nine degrees on the straightaway is similar to some of the shorter tracks in their turns. Last year's race witnessed seven cautions and the average speed for the race was 118.959 mph.
Location: Dover, Del.
Length: 1.0 miles
Banking: 24-degree turns; 9-degree straights
Leading the pack
Biffle began the season racing very well. At one point, he was second in the standings but has fallen back to 11th position. Last week's second-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 has put Biffle back on track. He now has momentum back in his garage. Biffle's record at Dover is excellent. He has run at Dover 11 times, which includes a victory and an average finish of 12.9, to his credit. In said races, he has three top-five and six top-10 finishes. Dover is a track that Biffle enjoys and has been successful with. Take into account his past success, along with a track he is comfortable with, and this makes for a winning combination. Play him with confidence this week and expect a top-10 finish.
Kenseth's seventh-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 moved him up four positions in the 2008 Sprint Cup standings to 16th. He now has two top-10 finishes in a row. His season to date had been disappointing, but Kenseth's racing skills and team resources promises better finishes in upcoming races. He has run at Dover a total of 12 times since 2001, with one victory, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. His average finish is a respectable 17.3. In his last race at the track, he finished 35th with an engine failure. Roush's engineers have made strides in their Car of Tomorrow setup, allowing Kenseth to concentrate more on racing and less on mechanics. Given Kenseth's success and an improved setup, Kenseth looks poised to run a strong race.
Martin, a true veteran and one of the most respected drivers ever to race, drives for DEI on a part-time basis. Don't be deceived by his age, (49) or his part-time driving status, Martin is a competitive force on the track and a certain future Hall of Fame inductee. Since 2001, Martin has run 12 times at Dover with eight top-10s and six top-five finishes. Given Dover's track peculiarities, experience is a definite plus (43 career races at the track). His average finish at the track is 10.6, and Martin has earned one victory in this time. Taking advantage of Martin is a wise choice, especially on a track that he has been successful at.
Finishing 39th at a track he has virtually owned was a big disappointment for Johnson last week. The poor finish is a bit misleading as Johnson was in a position to challenge for the lead when he encountered an engine failure, pushing him to near the back of the pack. Bear in mind that Johnson makes very few mistakes on the track, and Hendrick Motorsports rarely has mechanical failures, when choosing a driver this week. Johnson has run 12 times at Dover and has earned three victories. His average finish is 11.9, which includes four top-fives and seven top-10s. Johnson has this track mastered and is hungry to improve upon last week's finish. If Johnson is available in your format you would be wise to choose him.
Busch sits atop the Sprint Cup standings and has for three weeks running. In his last six races, he has six top-10s, and an amazing five top-five finishes, to along with two victories. There isn't a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that has more momentum entering the race in Dover. However, a closer look at how Busch has performed at Dover is prudent. Busch's record at Dover is also positive. He has run six times with four top-10 and top-five finishes. He has not won a race yet and has an average finish of 11.8. Busch's season and track record indicates that he should be viewed as a favorite for the Best Buy 400.
Drivers to keep an eye on
Newman lost another position in his NASCAR Sprint Series Cup standings to 14th. His up-and-down season, which started with a win, has progressively deteriorated. He finished in 21st in the Coca-Cola 600 race this last week. This marks two consecutive weeks of poor finishes, following two weeks of top-10 placing. This is emblematic of Newman's racing: hot and cold. The good news is that he runs well at Dover. In his 12 races, he has won three times with an average finish of 10.0. He also has eight top-10 and six top-five finishes. It's tough to call Newman a favorite given his erratic season, but history indicates it would be a mistake to sit him.
Truex and DEI are still waiting for his transformation into the elite group of drivers. After former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved to Hendrick Motorsports many insiders believed Truex would elevate himself into a more dominate driver. He currently sits in 15th position in the Cup standings but has yet to establish himself. Dover appears to be an excellent opportunity for a major step forward. He has run only four times at Dover but already has a win and two top-10 finishes. Truex appears to be poised to earn a top-10 finish and a possible second visit to Victory Lane this week.
By most accounts, Edwards has taken over leadership of Roush Fenway Racing as their most successful driver. He currently is in sixth place in the Cup standings and able to claim three victories. He also is on a string of three consecutive top-10 finishes. Edwards drives very well at Dover. His controlled but aggressive racing lends itself to strong finishes at Dover. His record is impressive, owning an average finish of 9.1, four top-10s in seven starts and a victory, which came in his last race. Taking into account his excellent record this season and at Dover, Edwards sits near the top of favorites for the Autism Speaks 400.
A slow beginning to the season had many experts wondering if Bowyer was a one-year wonder. He sat well out of the Cup standings and was struggling on the track. Bowyer's season turned around in the Kobalt Tools 500, where he finished sixth. He started a stretch of seven top-10 finishes in a row along with a checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway. He currently resides in fifth place in the standings. He has run only four times at Dover with two top-10 finishes and has no victories under his belt. His record has been very consistent, not finishing worse than 17th. In his last race, he finished 12th. Selecting a driver like Bowyer, who is on a hot streak, makes sense for mid-tier options at this track.
Burton sits just outside the lead in the Cup standings in second place. Burton has run so smoothly this season he could be called silk. His worst finish this season was in the Daytona 500, where he finished 13th. Since Daytona, he has been on a hot streak with one victory and eight top-10 finishes. Even in the races he did not finish in the top 10, Burton ran just outside 12th twice and 11th once. His owns a strong record at Dover in his last 12 starts by registering one victory and six top-10 finishes (four top-fives). He finished seventh the last time he raced at Dover. Burton is on autopilot, running almost flawlessly week to week. It's hard not to like NASCAR's most consistent driver on a track that he has a 9.9 average finish in the past 12 races.
About Bob Frykholm
Frykholm has been a KFFL contributor since February 2008.
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