* Truex Tries For Sweep At Hometown Track * Bowyer Finishes N.H. With Perfect Driver Rating * Four First-Time Winners Are Most In Series Since 2002 * Ragan Closing On Montoya In Rookie Battle Hometown Hero: Truex Looking For Dover...
* Truex Tries For Sweep At Hometown Track
* Bowyer Finishes N.H. With Perfect Driver Rating
* Four First-Time Winners Are Most In Series Since 2002
* Ragan Closing On Montoya In Rookie Battle
Hometown Hero: Truex Looking For Dover Sweep
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2007) -- The last time the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visited Dover International Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) was out to prove he could be "the man."
Just a few weeks prior to the June race at Dover, his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) announced his intentions to switch teams at the end of the year. Truex knew he needed to show he could be the flagship driver for the organization, but hadn't solidified that status with a win.
That all changed in front of his hometown fans when Truex led 216 laps en route to his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory. The win catapulted Truex into 12th place -- the coveted final spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
And he hasn't looked back.
Truex has remained in Chase position ever since and is one of two first-time Chase drivers. He has six top-five finishes in 14 races since then, compared with two in his first 57 career starts.
This weekend marks a big return for Truex, who also will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series, where he has two Dover victories.
"Obviously, Dover holds a lot of special memories for me," Truex said. "I came up through the ranks racing there and it's also the place where I got my first NASCAR Nextel Cup victory. To top it off, I'll be competing in the Busch Series race on Saturday in a car sponsored by my dad's company, Sea Watch! He sponsored some of my cars when I was younger, so it will definitely be cool to have those logos on the car again. We'll definitely be trying to "sweep" the Monster!"
Picture Perfect: Bowyer's Win Nets Flawless Driver Rating
Clint Bowyer's (No. 07 DirecTV Chevrolet) New Hampshire win marked only the sixth time a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver has recorded a perfect Driver Rating since the stat's inception in 2005.
"That's pretty cool," said Bowyer, when made aware of his accomplishment. "I think that's the first time I've gotten a perfect score on anything, but it goes a lot further than me. (Crew Chief) Gil (Martin) and all the guys that work on that Jack Daniel's Chevrolet gave me a perfect race car."
Bowyer ran the fastest lap on 78 of the 273 green flag laps of the race.
Chase Notebook: Trend Points To New Dover Winner From Chase Field
Dover marks the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- and the second consecutive at which a driver competing in the Chase has won all three previous Chase races. Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) is the defending winner, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) won in 2005 and Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) won in 2004.
In addition, Dover has seen seven consecutive different race winners, the longest such streak for the track. Since 2004, no driver has been able to win twice at Dover. That feat is noteworthy considering the two Dover races were swept by the same driver three times between 2000 and 2003 -- by Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) (2000), Johnson, (2002) and Newman (2003).
Going by the current trend, odds are against recent winners and Chase competitors Martin Truex Jr., Burton, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), and Johnson.
Other notes of interest:
* Clint Bowyer became the 18th different driver to win a race in all three national series. He has five NASCAR Busch Series victories and one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win.
* Every car that started the second race at New Hampshire International Speedway was running at the finish -- the first time since the mandated 43-car field (1998) that all cars were running at the end of a race. It is just the fourth time in NASCAR history that the entire field was running at the finish. The others were Nashville -- May 24, 1959 (12 cars), North Wilkesboro -- Oct. 1, 1995 (36 cars) and North Wilkesboro -- Sept. 29, 1996 (37 cars).
* Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 06 Penske Truck Rental Dodge) is trying for the second time to make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut. Hornish just missed qualifying for the New Hampshire race last week. He has competed in eight NASCAR Busch Series events.
Bowyer Becomes Fourth First-Time Winner This Season
For the first time since 2002, four drivers have earned their first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory in the same season. Two of the four -- Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer -- are also competing in their first Chase.
"Having four first-time winners in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series so far this season is a good indication of just how balanced and talented the group of drivers in this series is," said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. "It also shows that the level of competition is as good as it's ever been and it is only going to continue to get better."
Truex and Bowyer were both part of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year class, considered by some to be the best rookie class the series has seen, while Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) leads the 2007 Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.
"I'm just lucky to be part of such a strong rookie class," Bowyer said. "I think when you look back on this group of guys 20 years from now, people will be able to say that was a pretty stout group of guys and hopefully, we'll all be here for a long time to come. I think it's pretty apparent how good that group of guys is when you look at who is in the Chase this year."
Five drivers picked up their first career victory in 2002, including Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray (No. 26 IRWIN Ford) and Johnny Benson.
Rookie Battle: Ragan Continues to Gain Ground On Montoya
David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford) has slowly crept back into contention for Raybestos Rookie of the Year after spotting Juan Pablo Montoya an early lead following Montoya's win at Infineon Raceway and runner-up finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Montoya leads Ragan by 13 points, but had led by as many as 26 points after the August Pocono race.
Rookie points are calculated based on a rookie driver's finish compared to other rookies. The highest finishing rookie gets 10 points, second finishing rookie gets nine points, etc.
Each driver's top 17 races count towards the Rookie of the Year standings.
Keys To Victory
Dover International Speedway
Although Dover is very similar in length to New Hampshire, the two tracks are quite different. While New Hampshire is a flat track (12 degree banking in the turns), Dover is high-banked (24 degrees) and runs like a superspeedway.
* Aerodynamics will play a role; The high banking differentiates Dover from other mile tracks.
* Tire management is important; Drivers cannot afford to wear down their tires.
* Prepare for green flag stops; Crew chiefs need to make the right call when to come into the pits. A wrong decision could cost a driver up to two laps under green.