The Next Gen car makes its first trip to the “Monster Mile” this weekend.
NASCAR‘s Cup Series rolls into Dover Motor Speedway for the DuraMAX Drydene 400 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
With 400 laps around the concrete oval ahead, get prepped for the weekend here:
Cup teams will be broken into Groups A and B for practice and qualifying at Dover this weekend. Their Saturday begins with practice at 10:30 a.m. ET (FS1), where each group will be allotted 15 minutes. Once practice is complete, the groups will partake in single-car qualifying in which each driver will be allowed two timed laps. The five fastest drivers from each group will advance to the second round of qualifying, where the 10 competitors will fire off for single-car laps once again. The fastest of those 10 drivers will earn the Busch Light Pole Award.
— Dover Motor Speedway opened as Dover Downs International Speedway in 1969 as a unique dual-purpose facility designed to accommodate both harness racing and motorsports events.
— Richard Petty won the first NASCAR race at the facility, a 300-lap event on an asphalt track.
— Kyle Petty, Richard‘s son, won the first concrete race at the Monster Mile on June 4, 1995 after starting 37th.
— In 2002, Dover Downs International Speedway became Dover International Speedway as the gaming side of the company split off and Dover Motorsports, Inc., was created to exclusively oversee racing.
— Dover Motorsports at one time owned and operated Memphis Motorsports Park, Gateway International Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway and the Long Beach CA Grand Prix in addition to Dover.
— The track, which features 24 degrees of banking in its concrete corners and 9 degrees on its straightaways, debuted its 46-foot tall sculpture of Miles The Monster at Victory Plaza in 2008.
— Dover Motorsports still held rights to Nashville Superspeedway heading into the 2021 season and shifted one of its two Cup dates at Dover to Nashville last season, the series‘ first trip to Nashville Superspeedway and the track‘s first NASCAR event since Xfinity and Camping World Truck series racing in 2011.
— In December 2021, Speedway Motorsports completed its purchase of Dover, renaming the facility Dover Motor Speedway.
Source: Racing Insights
With its high banks and high speeds, Dover offers a unique challenge for the Next Gen car due to the heavy loads that will be placed on the vehicles in the corners. Those loads will lead to significant stress on the right-front tire.
“Dover obviously presents many challenges for Goodyear as it relates to NASCAR Cup racing,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “First, and most important for the teams, are the stresses put on the tires because of the high banking and relatively tight turn radii. The right-front sees a lot of load entering the corners as the car gets into the banking and tries to get to the center and back on the throttle. With this Next Gen car, we have definitely seen a higher concentration of loading on that position. Observing our minimum recommended pressures is vitally important at Dover.”
The tannish white of the concrete will also take on plenty of rubber throughout the race weekend, which will be evident both at the track and on television.
“Second, and this is something the fans will notice, is how the track changes color during the course of the race,” Stucker said. “At speed, the track will progressively turn black as the cars lay rubber on the concrete surface and then turn back white under the caution flag as the tires pick back much of that rubber. Keeping pace with that transition is an important element of the race strategy.”
DOVER STORY LINES
— The last six Dover races have been won by six different drivers: Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman.
— Truex, who remains winless in 2022, has finished inside the top two in four of the last five Dover races.
— Kyle Larson‘s 7.0 average finish in 13 Dover starts is the best of anyone with at least three starts, besting David Pearson (8.0) for the honor.
— Kevin Harvick‘s last stage victory came in August 2020 at Dover, 58 races ago.
— Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished 1-2-3-4 in this race last year, the only four-car team to have all four cars finish in the top four in a Cup race.
— HMS has won 21 Cup races at Dover, 12 more than any other team.
— Richard Childress Racing drivers Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick have yet to win in 2022 but have finished runner-up three times, including in each of the last two races (Reddick, Bristol Dirt; Dillon, Talladega).
Source: Racing Insights
CASHING IN ON CONCRETE
Kyle Larson enters the weekend as the 9-2 favorite according to BetMGM, and for good reason. Larson has finished inside the top three in each of his last three starts at Dover, including a win in 2019.
Not far behind are his Hendrick teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron, both of whom are listed at 8-1 while defending race winner Alex Bowman is posted at 12-1. Truex interrupts the Hendrick hoard at 10-1 odds.
The play this week would appear to be Kevin Harvick at 14-1 odds. The 2014 series champion has three wins at the Monster Mile and is slowly finding his way back to the top of the leaderboard. It seems a bit of a stretch considering the No. 4 team‘s lack of prolonged consistency, but Harvick shouldn‘t be overlooked this weekend.
RELATED: Odds for Dover
Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.
The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (362), Ryan Blaney (339) and William Byron (334).
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