The top two Nationwide drivers and their chasers will fight for points in Dover
As the NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Dover (Del.) International Speedway to take on the concrete one-mile track for Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200, so does the close championship battle brewing between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford and Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
With points leader Stenhouse’s rare poor finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend, Sadler was able to close the gap to 13 points. If past Dover statistics are any indication, the gap may not widen back out anytime soon, at least not this weekend.
... we feel confident that we can get another top-five finish.
“Dover is one of my favorite tracks,” Stenhouse said. “We had a tough weekend at Charlotte, but we’ve put that behind us and are looking forward to getting to Dover.”
The two championship contenders finished only two positions apart in this race a year ago, with Stenhouse finishing fourth to Sadler’s sixth. That’s a difference of only two points in the standings.
Stenhouse does have significantly less experience behind the wheel of a Nationwide car at Dover, considering he only has four starts there under his belt to Sadler’s eight. But two of those starts resulted in top-five finishes for the reigning series champion.
“We finished in the top-five both races there last year, so we feel confident that we can get another top-five finish in our No. 6 Cargill Beef Ford.”
As for Sadler, he has three top-10s to show for his eight starts in Dover. Their average Dover finishes aren’t really all that far apart, either. Stenhouse has an average Dover finish of 9.5, while Sadler has an average of 14.9.
“Dover has a lot of banking, and a lot of G-forces, and we seem to run well there,” Sadler said. “I’m excited to get up to Dover and try to put the OneMain Financial Chevrolet into victory lane.”
And don’t count out Sadler’s teammate, Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Most of the championship talk has centered around a two-way battle between Stenhouse and Sadler, but Dillon’s not out for the count. He currently occupies the third spot in the championship points standings, 28 points out. That tally may very well be slightly more than a half-a-race-worth of points, but there’s still a lot of time left to make it up.
Dillon will be making his Dover debut in Nationwide Series competition on Saturday. While this weekend’s race will mark his debut in Nationwide competition at the track, he won’t be making laps at Dover for the first time. Dillon competed twice there in the Camping World Truck Series, posting a best finish of fourth in May of last year.
“I finished fourth there in the Camping World Truck Series race last year, and I think both times I have been to Dover, our team has been in position to win,” Dillon said.
It doesn’t look like Stenhouse, or anyone else for that matter, is going to be running away with the championship anytime soon.