Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 11 -- Dover, the Mid-Atlantic Monster

Qualifying for the FedEx 400 at Dover was rained out. Contrary to the misinformation on NASCAR.COM, the insulting product NASCAR has contracted with Turner to exhibit, drivers will line up by best practice speed among the top 35 cars in owner points. NASCAR.COM hasn’t assimilated the rule change – pretty pathetic for what’s supposed to be the sport’s official communications portal.

Weather is threatening in the mid-Atlantic region as the Nationwide race has contended with rain delays today. Tomorrow’s forecast indicates a 50% chance of thunderstorms with temperatures in the low 70’s. The probability eases up slightly later in the afternoon. The likelihood drivers will start on a green race track is high given there could easily be enough rain overnight to remove the rubber laid down during the Nationwide race.

Here are the top 15 starters:
1. Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet
2. A.J. Allmendinger, #43, Ford
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88, Chevrolet
4. Kasey Kahne, #4, Toyota
5. Joey Logano, #20, Toyota
6. Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge
7. Kyle Busch, #18, Chevrolet
8. Martin Truex Jr., #56, Toyota
9. Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge
10. Kevin Harvick, #29, Chevrolet
11. Regan Smith, #78, Chevrolet
12. Greg Biffle, #16, Ford
13. Carl Edwards, #99, Ford
14. David Ragan, #6, Ford
15. Brian Vickers, #83, Toyota

Perhaps the story of tomorrow’s race will be who will be ready for a brawl when the race is over. Dover is a track prone to make tempers boil, as was Darlington last week, and Richmond, the week before.

All eyes will be on Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick for their post race confrontation as if last week did anything to settle down Ryan Newman versus Juan Pablo Montoya.

With its high banks and concrete surface, Dover International Raceway is one of the most mean-spirited tracks on the circuit. There are no gentle nudges where cars are on the verge of chaos all race long where the slightest loss of handling results in a collision. That Jimmie Johnson sits on the pole should be an ominous sign for the rest of the field given he won three out of the last four Dover races. Kyle Busch won last spring’s race.

Hopefully, weather will be agreeable. The racing is always full of strange twist and turns which make one driver’s recent dominance seem so improbable. Fans can surely pray that there will not be a vicious accident the scale of what ended today’s Nationwide race where Carl Edwards and Joey Logano raced for the win, Logano lost handling whacked Clint Bowyer whose car flipped with significant wreckage up in the lead pack.


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