Tag Archives: Dover International Speedway

Win and Advance in the Chase, Win Again and Eliminate a Chaser

Martin Truex Jr. was caught a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway. He was fast, so fast that he all but unlapped himself. Fast forward to this past week at Dover International Speedway and Martin Truex Jr. was real fast. He was so fast that he almost lapped the field. When he won there were only six cars on the lead lap. Truex has now won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Wining one race automatically advances you to the next round of the Chase. Winning another race may keep another competitor who may have needed to win from advancing. In this case it did not since Kyle Busch already had enough points to advance. It does get one to question what could be done with multiple wins in the Chase. Can there be a way to encourage and reward it.

Here is an idea. What if drivers win multiple races in the Chase and an extra driver is eliminated from the Chase in each round of a multiple win. For instance this round Martin Truex Jr. won two races in the first round. The next round of the Chase is the Round of 12. Since he won an additional race then the next round could have only 11 drivers; 16 drivers minus the scheduled 4 plus an extra one.

Kevin Harvick won the second race of the Round of 16. If he should win another race in the Round of 12 then another driver would be eliminated for the Round of 8 such that there would only be 7 drivers in that round.

Extrapolating out if Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. should happen to win three races in the Round of 12 then there would only be 5 drivers in the Round of 8.  If this pattern continues then Harvick and Truex would be left to fight it out at Homestead Miami Speedway.

If Truex were to win all three races of the round of 8 then he would win the Championship prior to Homestead Miami Speedway.

Think about it. Right now you win to guarantee to advance in a round but you race to maintain your position in the standings to advance. This format throws some Offense into the game. Win and advance. Win again to eliminate your competition. This just ramps it up to a whole new level.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 321972 Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

Kevin Harvick the Legend

Kevin Harvick led the whole regular season, the clear winner for the NASCAR Championship. Harvick won the regular season by 30 points over Joey Logano. He took that confidence with him into the Chase.

In the opening media event prior to the Chase, Kevin Harvick called out the Joe Gibbs Racing teams who had been his only apparent competition the last few races before the Chase. “I think we’re going to pound them into the ground,” Harvick said. “That’s what I think. Hopefully, they can beat themselves.

It didn’t happen that way. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin won at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race of the Chase after Harvick raced his fellow Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson too hard and cut a tire to fall way back on his bid to repeat as Champion.

The next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick was again racing at the front to continue his effort to a second Championship only to run out of fuel at the end of the race. Matt Kenseth, another Joe Gibbs Racing driver capitalized on this to move himself into the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. At this point it was apparent that Kevin Harvick would be plagued by his words to open the Championship. He also was in a very deep hole in points putting himself in a must win position at Dover International Speedway, a track he has never won at before and one he has not done well at.

There was other wisdom that Harvick uttered prior to Chicagoland that, he is glad held no truth. Harvick said about the Joe Gibbs teams, “Well, you can’t be good once every three weeks.  You got to be good for 10 weeks.  I know those guys have run fast.  It’s been a different Gibbs car that we’ve raced against for the last 10 weeks.  As a company, they’ve had some good success in winning races, but it hasn’t been the same car.

Well Kevin Harvick has done exactly what he said wouldn’t work. He has run good once every three weeks and has won at Dover to move himself up into the Contender round of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Above all else Kevin Harvick has created a legend, one of a fierce competitor who never lets circumstances change his demeanor and approach to the task at hand. He used to be called the closer or “where did he come from” at the end of races. Now he will be called that about finishing championships. How else can one, who has never won at a track, step it up to seemingly do the impossible to stay alive in order to win a championship?

“Oh yeah. Anytime you can go through moments like this and gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do things like this, there’s no way you can’t be stronger. I’m just do proud of those guys and so proud of our fans and everybody for all their support all week.” Harvick added, “There it is, stay the course. That’s what he (Tony Stewart) always says. Tony is just one of those guys who always puts everybody before him and that’s really what makes Stewart-Haas what it is. It’s just a lot of fun to be a part of this team.”

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing

Strategy is What Makes NASCAR, Well NASCAR

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket at Dover International Speedway highlighted how pit strategy impacts racing especially NASCAR racing. Whether you like it or not sometimes the fastest car doesn’t win in racing. It happens in all racing but in some series because of the race format or length strategy doesn’t have an impact. In the top three series of NASCAR strategy always has some sort of impact. Chris Buescher won by some great race strategy.

In order to explain how strategy impacted the results of the race we need to go back into the race. In this case deep into the race because strategy presents itself like Chris Buescher or forces itself on you like Matt Kenseth.

On lap 31 of the 200 lap race Matt Kenseth came down pit road to have a loose wheel corrected. He gets four tires and fuel. This takes him off of the strategy of the entire rest of the field even though he has a very fast race car. His day is seemingly done. A different strategy has been forced upon him and his team.

The thing about strategy is when you are on a different strategy then everyone else you need some help to make yours better than theirs. In this case there was a caution within ten laps such that Kenseth could stay out, get the wave around to get back on the lead lap. During this caution for debris the leaders all pitted for tires and fuel. To visualize it Kenseth restarts the second to last car on the lead lap the only car without fresh tires and about 25 laps less on fuel.

Strategy keeps following Kenseth. There is another caution four laps after the last on lap 65. Matt Kenseth and his team since they are at the back of the field anyway pit for tires and fuel. Since all the other teams only had about six laps on their tires and fuel they stayed out. Matt is now closer in strategy and not out of the race.

The race restarts and goes 25 laps before another caution for a wreck. Kenseth stays out to lead the race. The tires at Dover are pretty good so he leads the race until he pits with 46 to go for his last four tires and fuel. He can make it to the end and if the race stays green he owns it.

It does stay green, Kenseth’s team looks brilliant. Except ….. Under the same last caution that Matt Kenseth gained his lead and his advantage over strategy Chris Buescher pits for four tires and fuel. Ironically he and his teammate are getting great fuel millage and end up racing one another for the lead after all the other leaders but Kenseth pit under green flag conditions. Buescher and Wallace get together and Wallace has to pit for damage. Because of this Buescher has been presented strategy to win the race on fuel. He has a 25 second lead on Kenseth on which to save fuel over eight laps.

We got fortunate. We had a loose wheel and got a lap down and did the wave around and was able to lead a lap. We were one set short of tires, so we had to stay out that one round, but we were able to lead that whole stint.” Kenseth added, “It went green at the end and I thought we were going to win the race, I didn’t think anyone was going to be able to run that long on fuel. They (Chris Buescher) did so it was a good day for us.

There it is two distinct different strategies racing to win a race. Which one would prevail? One would never have thought a car could go almost 100 laps on fuel but strategy presented itself and both teams accepted the challenge. It made it exciting for the fan that was paying attention not so for the fan that was not but that is what NASCAR racing is all about. That is what makes NASCAR racing interesting and also what makes it hard to understand. If there was a caution flag at any time in the last 50 laps you wouldn’t be reading this. Erik Jones would have won. That is NASCAR racing!

We will do it all again for the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday May 31st. If you cannot get to Dover International Speedway the race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 309345 Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Kurt Busch has Been Released From NASCAR Purgatory

On February 20th 2015, Kurt Busch was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR due to the outcome of an order of protection hearing in a Delaware family court. The court had granted on order of protection to Patricia Driscoll from Kurt Busch resulting from an altercation that occurred in Busch’s motor home at the Dover International Speedway.

Kurt Busch signed an agreement with NASCAR outlining his road to reinstatement. The suspension and agreement all happened prior to finding out if actual criminal charges would be filled against Kurt Busch by Dover Delaware.

The decision to lift the suspension was made by NASCAR after Kurt Busch:

  • Complied with all requirements in its reinstatement program;
  • Completed the mandatory behavioral assessment sessions; and
  • The behavioral health care expert who conducted the sessions recommended to NASCAR that Kurt Busch be allowed to return to competition.

NASCAR has also granted a waiver that a driver must compete in all 26 current season events in order to be eligible for the Chase. This means that if Busch can win a race and get enough points to be in the top 30 he would be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Steve O’Donnel, NASCAR Executive Vice President said, “We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior.”

Domestic Abuse is serious and as such NASCAR, due to what has happened with other players in other sports was painted into a box. They had to act given what was found in the Family Court. We will never truly know what happened in that motor home. Seeing that the prosecutors came to the same conclusion and Kurt Busch followed and promised to continue their plan; NASCAR also had to act to reinstate Kurt Busch.

One can criticize NASCAR for the suspension and then the quick reinstatement but they had to act or in this case react to what had been happening with Busch off the track. Whatever your opinion of Kurt Busch baring a felony conviction or on track behavior that hurts competition or safety he deserves to be racing. There is no reason to keep Kurt Busch from pursuing his livelihood of racing in NASCAR.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 296903 Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images

Look Out Dover The Jimmie Johnson Genie Has Been Let Out of The Bottle

NASCAR spent the last two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson and his Lowe’s team was finally able to end their winless streak. It took a run at a speedway that Jimmie Johnson excels at to get it done. Now that the Genie is out of the bottle, this week NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson return to Dover International Speedway; a track Johnson simply dominates.

The Dover International Speedway is a one mile high banked speedway. There is 24 degrees of banking in the corners and nine degrees on the front and backstretch. The race is 400 laps and miles. This track is a short track but because of the high banking is more like a superspeedway. The width of the track and high banking can lead to crashes that involve multiple cars. That is what the drivers will be trying to avoid.

To say that Jimmie Johnson dominates Dover is and understatement. Johnson has won eight races here double that of the next contender Jeff Gordon. His average finish of 8.7 is also unmatched. Last but not least his driver rating is in domination land at 121.1.

The next closest drivers are Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch with driver ratings of 107.9 and 106.0. They each have two wins at this track. Watch out for Carl Edwards who got a reputation for doing well on concrete tracks like Dover. His rating of 101.3 like his teammate Greg Biffle‘s 101.0 isn’t bad but his average finish of 10.0 is something to watch.

This week it will be all about Jimmie Johnson though. He loves racing here and has great success. Now that he has his win and is locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup he can just concentrate on winning races.

Johnson said, “I absolutely love Dover. It is one of my favorite tracks by far. We have run so well there in the past and it’s a great track for the No. 48 team and coming off of a win in Charlotte we will have some momentum. It was great to finally get the win behind us, lock ourselves in the Chase and move ahead in the points. I’m really proud of our team and look forward to running well this weekend in Dover.

If you cannot get to Dover International Speedway for the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks it will be broad cast by FOX on Sunday June 1st starting at 12:30 PM ET. This will be the last NASCAR race for FOX in 2014. TNT will be picking up coverage of the series starting the next week at Pocono.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 286601 Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Dover
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 121.1
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 107.9
Kyle Busch…………………………. 106.0
Carl Edwards………………………. 101.3
Greg Biffle………………………….. 101.0
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 93.7
Kurt Busch……………………………. 92.5
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 91.6
Martin Truex Jr………………………. 89.4
Ryan Newman……………………….. 89.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Dover Motor Speedway.