*The Monster Mile Known To Shuffle Points Standings *Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards Rivalry Could Re-Ignite *Loop Data: Biffle No Longer A Surprise *Dover Bodes Well For The Top 12 Contenders Chase, Race 2: Dover Could Further Jumble...
*The Monster Mile Known To Shuffle Points Standings
*Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards Rivalry Could Re-Ignite
*Loop Data: Biffle No Longer A Surprise
*Dover Bodes Well For The Top 12 Contenders
Chase, Race 2: Dover Could Further Jumble Standings
The tensions of the post season are heating up this weekend at the one-mile concrete track known as 'The Monster Mile', Dover International Speedway. But this week Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) might not want to be atop the standings with the way the points have been shuffling.
The Chase format proved to be the ultimate equalizer last Sunday at New Hampshire. Had there been no Chase, Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) would have entered New Hampshire with a 207 point lead. Now, he trails new points leader Edwards by 74 -- a 281-point swing. Busch took the biggest drop in the points after New Hampshire, dropping seven spots to eighth.
And this week it could be more of the same. Since the inception of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2004, the standings leader has changed after Dover every year.
Roush Fenway Racing currently has two drivers in the top three of the Chase -- Edwards and, last week's winner, Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford). Only 30 points separate the two, and both Edwards and Biffle have won at Dover -- fall of 2007 and spring of 2005 respectively. Could 'the points shuffle' happen two weeks in a row?
Here are the Chase scenarios after Dover from the past four years:
In 2004, the inaugural Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet) led the standings heading to Dover. He posted a ninth-place finish, while Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), third in the standings, finished third in the race. Gordon moved up two spots to the top of the standings, and Earnhardt fell to third.
In 2005, Dover again played the spoiler for the points leader. Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) led second place Greg Biffle by 20 points heading to Dover. Stewart finished 18th, one lap down, while Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), fifth in points, won the race, propelling him four spots into the lead and relegating Stewart to fifth.
In 2006, Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet) won the opening Chase race in New Hampshire and opened up a 35-point lead over second-place, Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota), the largest ever during the Chase heading to Dover. But Harvick finished 32nd after an engine failure, and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet), fourth in the points, won the race and moved up three spots to take the standings lead.
In 2007, Johnson headed to Dover atop the standings while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon was second. Johnson finished two laps down in 14th, but Gordon finished one lap down in 11th. Gordon managed to edge Johnson and take the lead, while Johnson fell to third.
Busch vs. Edwards: Dover International Speedway Could Re-Ignite 'The Rivalry'
Kyle Busch finished 34th at New Hampshire, dropping him to eighth in the standings.
But Busch has been successful at Dover, having won there earlier in the season, and having posted five top-five finishes in eight starts.
Last season during the Chase, Busch started 22nd and rallied to a fifth-place finish at Dover moving from fifth to fourth in the standings.
The NASCAR Pre-Race Loop Data statistics has Busch ranked in the top 10 of several key categories: third in Driver Rating (106.9); eighth in Average Running Position (11.933) and sixth in Laps In The Top 15 (73.6 %).
Carl Edwards heads to Dover this weekend after finishing third at New Hampshire catapulting him to the standings lead.
Edwards has posted one win, four top-five, and five top-10 finishes in eight starts at Dover.
Edwards won the fall race at Dover last season, moving him up two spots in the 2007 Chase standings from eighth to sixth.
NASCAR Pre-Race Loop Data statistics show Edwards ranked in the top 10 of several key categories: fourth in Driver Rating (102.9), fourth in Average Running Position (10.417) and eighth in Laps in the Top 15 (69.6%).
Loop Data: Biffle, Edwards and Kenseth Are Set For Dover
Greg Biffle won't sneak up on anyone, anymore.
The surprise winner at New Hampshire last Sunday vaulted into third place and now sits just 30 points behind Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards.
Another Biffle move up the standings could occur this weekend -- only this time it would be expected.
Biffle is phenomenal at Dover, boasting some of the top statistics in the series. He grabbed a Dover win in 2005 and has finished inside the top 10 in six out of the last seven races (including five straight coming into this race).
Over that span, Biffle owns series-best numbers in Driver Rating (116.1), Average Running Position (6.3), Fastest Laps Run (267) and Laps in the Top 15 percentage (94.5%).
Biffle finished third at Dover earlier this season; Edwards finished second. In that race, Biffle earned some of the best stats of his season. He had a Driver Rating of 130.6, an Average Running Position of 2.3 and 77 Fastest Laps Run. All three were personal bests for 2008.
On the other end of the standings spectrum, this could be a redemption race for Matt Kenseth, another member of the Roush Fenway stable.
Over the last two races, Kenseth has suffered finishes of 39th and 40th, and finds himself in 12th-place, 177 points out of first. The long march back into contention likely needs to begin this weekend. It could.
In the last seven races at Dover (which includes a win in 2006), Kenseth has a Driver Rating of 112.3 (second-best), an Average Running Position of 7.0 (second), 244 Fastest Laps Run (second), a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 91.9% (second) and a series-high 222 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green).
Kenseth and Biffle also rank one-two in average Green Flag Speed at Dover. Kenseth has an average Green Flag Speed of 141.752 mph; Biffle is at 141.742 mph.
Second Stop In The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup Bodes Well For The Top 12
The second stop on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule is Dover International Speedway; which bodes well for the top 12 Chase contenders. Nine of the 12 have won at Dover and three drivers with multiple wins also have multiple series championships: Jeff Gordon (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), Tony Stewart (two), Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth all have one Dover victory.
Jeff Gordon rises to the top at Dover; he not only has four wins, he also has three poles.
Gordon has uncharacteristically not won this season, for the first time since his first full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in 1993, when he went the entire season without a win. Dover could change that, though. Gordon has plenty of experience at the track, having posted 14 top fives and 19 top 10s in 31 starts.
Last fall, Gordon finished 11th. He finished fifth in June.
Rick Hendrick leads all other car owners in wins at Dover with 10 and could make it 11 with Jimmie Johnson's momentum the last three weeks.
Dover just might be the place to showcase it. Johnson has won two of the last three series races (Richmond and Auto Club Speedway) and finished second at New Hampshire. He has posted three wins, four top fives and eight top 10s in 13 starts at Dover.
Tony Stewart has the third most wins by an active driver at Dover, with two. Stewart, like Gordon, also has not won this season for the first time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. His previous longest winless streak during a single season was his rookie year (1999), where he went 24 races before winning the 25th race, at Richmond.
Stewart has posted nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 19 starts at Dover.
NASCAR CAM Video Teleconference: Jeff Burton
This week's guest on the NASCAR CAM Video Teleconference was Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing. He is fifth in the Chase standings after a top-five finish at New Hampshire. Here are some excerpts:
On the Chase and early success:
Burton: "I don't think I would give Greg advice but I would give the media and the fans advice, 'don't read too much into one week.' I think it is important to understand that this is a 10-week stretch. I mean, so much happens in 10 weeks. We have already seen it in one week. ... Just because Greg Biffle won the first race of the deal that doesn't mean he is going to win it all. .... It is just too early to be deciding who is going to win and who is not going to win. It is just way too early. ... But people that watch racing ought to remember two races out of 10 can completely ruin a guys race to the championship. So you just never know what is going to happen. You have to take one race at a time; you have to pay attention to one race at a time. ... So it is one race at time and 10 races is an eternity and a lot stuff is going to happen over the next 10 races."
Describing what it is like as a driver:
Burton: "You're not going to get me to tell you that I don't have the best job in the world. It certainly is not just showing up on a Sunday afternoon and driving a car around. It certainly is not like that. ... But I love what I do. You'll have hard time getting me to tell you I have a rough deal. I am 41 years old, and I am doing what I wanted to do when I was seven. Think about that. Think about a seven year old looking you in the eye and saying, "I want to be a fireman, a race car driver, an astronaut,' and then them doing it. That is what I am doing. I love what I do for a living and it is difficult, but it is supposed to be difficult. This is the highest form racing in North America. If it is not hard then something is wrong."
Celebrity Nine-Ball Charity Event:
On Friday, Sept. 19, Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet), Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge), Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) and Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) will participate in a celebrity Nine-Ball tournament in the Rollins Center at the Dover Downs Casino. ESPN pit-road reporters Jamie Little and Shannon Spake also will be part of the evening's card. SPEED's Hermie Sadler and Brian Gurry from CN8's American Builder also are scheduled to participate with $10,000 going to the winner's charity of choice.
First Annual Charitable Golf Tournament:
On Thursday, September 18th, Martin Truex Jr (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) will kick off the First Annual Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Golf Tournament near his hometown of Mayetta, N.J. The Sea Oaks Golf Club in Tuckerton, N.J., will hold the event, which will raise money for several local charities, including the Ocean of Love program, the Head Start Program of Ocean County, and the 32nd Degree Masonic Learning Center.
Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Heats Up:
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is not the only battle that is close with nine races left on the schedule.
Regan Smith (No. 01 DEI/Prinicipal Financial Chevrolet) and Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) are vying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year title this season.
Smith (186) is three points ahead of second-place Hornish (183), and nine points ahead of third-place Patrick Carpentier (No. 10 Charter Dodge) (177).
Smith has one start at Dover, in June, he started 29th and finished 21st there.
In Hornish's first start at Dover, in June, he started 16th and finished 18th. He had the highest finish of the rookie class.
Up Next: Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Speedway
The third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be Sun., Sept. 30 at Kansas Speedway.
Last year, Greg Biffle won his first and only race of 2007. Biffle's previous win was at Homestead-Miami at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
Biffle was not in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2007, but this season he is third in the Chase standings with 5,190 points.
Jimmie Johnson captured the Coors Light Pole last season, and went on to finish third at Kansas. The solid finish moved Johnson from third place into the lead of the Chase standings.
The Race: Camping World RV 400 presented by AAA
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 21
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 1-mile oval
The Distance: 400 laps/400 miles
TV: ABC, 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN (Local Affiliate: WDSD-FM 94.7), SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Carl Edwards
2007 Polesitter: Jimmie Johnson
Friday -- Practice, 11-12:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.
Saturday -- Practice, 12:30-1:15 p.m.; Final Practice, 1:50 --2:50 p.m.