* Chevrolet Clinches Manufacturers' Championship * Kenseth Looks For Dover Sweep Final Dover Race For Mark Martin In Familiar No. 6 Ford Sunday's Dover 400 will be Mark Martin's (No. 6 AAA Ford) 41st race at the Monster Mile. Martin, who has...
* Chevrolet Clinches Manufacturers' Championship
* Kenseth Looks For Dover Sweep
Final Dover Race For Mark Martin In Familiar No. 6 Ford
Sunday's Dover 400 will be Mark Martin's (No. 6 AAA Ford) 41st race at the Monster Mile. Martin, who has yet to announce his plans for 2007, has acknowledged that he will not be back in the No. 6 Ford that he has piloted since 1988. The 19-year union between Martin and car owner Jack Roush is the longest current streak in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
Martin has outperformed all of his competitors at Dover during his tenure in the No. 6 Ford. He has four Budweiser Poles and four victories at the track -- both lead all active drivers there. Martin also leads all current drivers with 19 top-five finishes and 25 top-10 finishes at Dover.
Although Martin's longevity has helped his career numbers at Dover, he has not slipped in recent years. His current streak of five consecutive top 10s is the longest among his peers. He finished first, second, third and fourth in four consecutive races in 2004 and 2005.
Pre-race Loop Data further illustrates Martin's dominance at Dover. He leads all drivers with a 5.237 Average Running Position and is third with a Driver Rating of 113.9.
Keys To Victory At Dover: Find The Right Groove
Dover International Speedway is a high-banked one-mile concrete track that has many characteristics of a superspeedway.
Throughout the track's 38-year history, it has wreaked havoc on many a driver earning it the nickname "The Monster Mile."
What are the keys to getting around Dover?
Find your groove. The Dover racing surface has matured over the years. As a result, there are several racing grooves to choose from, including as many as four different grooves through the corners. Finding the groove that works best with your car and your driving style is necessary to ensure success. Know the track characteristics. Some in the garage tend to associate Dover with the track they just raced at -- New Hampshire International Speedway -- because of the similarity in distance. This is a big mistake that will hinder a team's chance to win the race because of the difference in the two tracks' characteristics. The high speeds at Dover provide it with a superspeedway feel which is not present at other 1-mile tracks. Aerodynamics will play an important role in the race.
Qualifying is crucial. Pit road at Dover is very tight which makes pit selection an integral part of a team's strategy. A strong qualifying effort is necessary to ensure your team gets an early pit selection. In addition, six of the last seven races at Dover have been won from a top10 starting position.
In The Loop At Dover: Speed Through Corners Outweighs Straightaways
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series is making its fourth trip to Dover International Speedway since NASCAR started tracking the new loop data, leaving many new stats to evaluate teams' performances at the high-banked oval.
Not surprisingly, four of the top six drivers in Driver Rating at the track are also competitors in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) leads all drivers with a driver rating of 116.8, narrowly edging Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) (116.6). Mark Martin (113.9), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) (110.5) and Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) (105.7) follow.
Breaking down the top Dover competitors performance on the track, speed through the corners seems to be more important than having speed down the straightaways.
Of the six active drivers who have an Average Finish of 10th or better at the track [Busch -- 3.0, Johnson -- 3.7, Martin -- 5.3, Biffle -- 7.3, Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) -- 9.0 and Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) -- 9.0], four drivers rank in the top 10 in speed in at least three different turns.
Busch is the fourth Fastest Driver in Turn 1, third fastest in Turn 2, eighth fastest in Turn 3 and sixth fastest in Turn 4.
Martin ranks ninth, first, 10th and fourth in Turns 1-4, respectively.
Newman ranks 10th, eighth, seventh and eighth in the four turns and Johnson ranks eighth, sixth, 11th and 10th.
The same six drivers have not done well as a whole on either straightaway. Only Biffle and Johnson rank in the top 10 Fastest by Straightaway.
Another Loop Data note to keep an eye on at Dover -- Biffle, Martin and Johnson rank first, second and third in Fastest Laps Run (127 for Biffle, 126 for Martin and 102 for Johnson.)
Chase Drivers Need More Than Top-10 Finishes To Stay In Title Hunt
Matt Kenseth entered the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup as the series point leader, and one of the favorites to win the championship. Kenseth put together a strong 10th-place run at New Hampshire which one would expect would go a long ways in maintaining his points lead. Instead, the 2003 series champion dropped to third in the standings and is 41 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
The fall was due to the strong performance of the rest of the Chase field. Four other Chase competitors finished ahead of Kenseth in the race, including Harvick who won the race and assumed the points lead. Kenseth and Harvick weren't the only drivers to change positions after New Hampshire -- the entire Chase field left Loudon in a different point position than what they arrived with.
The biggest changes came from Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch who dropped to ninth and 10th in the standings, respectively. Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) provided the lone bright spot for Hendrick -- he finished third in the race and jumped five spots to fourth in the point standings.
Manufacturers' Standings: Chevy Clinches 30th Manufacturers' Championship
Chevrolet clinched the 2006 Manufacturers' Championship after Kevin Harvick's victory at New Hampshire. The win was the 16th of the season for Chevrolet, which now has amassed 204 points. The championship is the 30th for Chevrolet, including the last four consecutive years.
Ford retains its second-place spot with 155 points and five victories. Dodge, on the heels of Elliott Sadler's (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) sixth-place finish, is one point behind Ford with 154 points and six wins.
Heading into Dover, no manufacturer seems to enjoy an advantage. All three have won once during the past four Dover events.
Locked In: Sterling Marlin Holds On To Last Guaranteed Spot
The battle to secure a starting spot in each week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event continues this week at Dover, with the No. 14 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Chevrolet driven by Sterling Marlin holding the all-important 35th and final locked-in position.
The No. 14, which last week was 14 points ahead of Kyle Petty's No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge in the owner points, has a bit more breathing room this week.
Marlin's team now leads Petty's by 55 points, meaning the No. 45 will have to earn a starting spot in Sunday's event on the strength of its qualifying speed.
Petty's team is 36th in owner points, one spot outside the sanctity of the top 35, which affords a "locked-in" starting spot for the Dover 400.
Crew Member Spotlight: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Crew Chief Roy McCauley
This weekend will be a homecoming of sorts for Roy McCauley, crew chief of the No. 2 Lite Dodge driven by Kurt Busch.
McCauley grew up in Davidsonville, Md., approximately 80 miles from Dover International Speedway. The first-year crew chief is also a graduate of the University of Maryland, earning a degree in mechanical engineering in 1992.
McCauley joined Penske Racing South in 2002 as chief engineer. He made his crew chief debut in 2004 overseeing Penske's driver development program. In 2005, McCauley oversaw a nine-race NASCAR Busch Series schedule in which the team, with driver Ryan Newman, emerged with six victories -- five consecutive -- and four poles.
In 27 races this season, the team has compiled one victory, five top fives and eight top 10s.
Rookie Report: Hamlin Hunts For More Than Raybestos Rookie Title
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Chevrolet) finished fourth in Sunday's race to climb to second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. That marks the highest point standing position in Hamlin's young career. His previous best was fifth after Richmond.
Hamlin looks like a lock to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award. With nine races left in the season, he holds a 52-point lead over Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet) in the rookie standings (260-208). Hamlin has won two races this season, making him the only rookie with a victory. He also has 14 top-10 finishes on the season compared with seven for Bowyer.
Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge) remains third, trailing Bowyer by 19 points. He finished 17th at New Hampshire.
Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet), is in fourth place with 175 points.
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) is fifth with 168 points.
David Stremme (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) remains sixth with 143 points.
Where In The World Is Ken Schrader?
Ken Schrader continues to be, arguably, the busiest auto racer in the country, finding time to race in a variety of disciplines in addition to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
Schrader will take it easy this week, competing only in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series events at Dover.
ETC. ... Kyle Busch has posted three top-five finishes in his three races at Dover International Speedway. He also has a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at the Monster Mile. ... Jimmie Johnson has posted four straight top-10 finishes at Dover. ... Jeff Gordon has led 2,198 laps at Dover -- most of all active drivers. The four-time series champion has led at least one lap in 17 of his 27 races at the track. Gordon needs eight more laps led to pass Richard Petty for second all-time at the track. Bobby Allison is the all-time leader with 2,803 laps led. ... Ryan Newman has three Budweiser Poles in the last seven races at Dover. ... There have been five different race winners in the last five races at the track. ... Kasey Kahne is expected to make his 100th career start this weekend.
Past History Indicates Dover Sweep Is Likely
Despite dropping to third in the standings, Matt Kenseth should feel good about his chances going into Dover this weekend.
As the winner of the June race at Dover, Kenseth seems to have an edge over the rest of the field. In five of the past 12 years, the winner of the June race has gone on to sweep the September event. Ryan Newman last accomplished the feat in 2003. Jimmie Johnson (2002), Tony Stewart [No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet] (2000), Jeff Gordon (1996) and Rusty Wallace (1994) are the other drivers to sweep Dover since 1994.
Denny Hamlin is the only driver to sweep both races at the same track so far this year with his wins at Pocono Raceway. There have been at least two tracks swept every year since 2002.
Track Sweeps Since 2003
2006 -- Denny Hamlin, Pocono Raceway
2005 -- Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's Motor Speedway
2005 -- Jeff Gordon, Martinsville Speedway
2005 -- Carl Edwards, Atlanta Motor Speedway
2004 -- Jimmie Johnson, Pocono Raceway
2004 -- Kurt Busch, New Hampshire International Speedway
2004 -- Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's Motor Speedway
2004 -- Jimmie Johnson, Darlington Raceway
2003 -- Kurt Busch, Bristol Motor Speedway
2003 -- Ryan Newman, Dover International Speedway
2003 -- Jeff Gordon, Martinsville Speedway
On Deck: The Chase Continues At Kansas Speedway
The third event in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will be the Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 1. (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC).
Mark Martin is the defending winner while Matt Kenseth was last year's pole winner.
Kansas joined the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2001 with Chicagoland Speedway. Chase participant Jeff Gordon won the first two races at the track and remains the only driver with multiple wins. Ryan Newman and Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) also have wins at Kansas.
The Race: Dover 400
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Sept. 241
The Time: 1:10 p.m. (ET)
The Distance: 400 miles/400 laps
Track Layout: 1-mile oval
TV: TNT 12:30 p.m. (ET)
2005 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2005 Pole: Ryan Newman
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule: Friday -- Practice, 11:35 a.m.- 1 p.m. Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday -- Practice, 9-10 a.m. Final practice, 10:35-11:20 a.m.