NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover: FedEx 400 preview

dscott@charlotteobserver.comMay 31, 2014 

  • Race facts

    Where: Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

    Track type: 1-mile concrete oval

    Race distance: 400 miles or 400 laps

    Weather: Sunny, high 72

    TV: Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on Fox. Green flag is 1:15 p.m.

    Radio: Motor Racing Network

Johnson looking to add to momentum at Dover

Six-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson won for the first time this season at last week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If that wasn’t enough to alert any detractors that he hasn’t gone anywhere, he’s racing Sunday at Dover International Speedway – a track where he has eight career victories.

“There is a feel, a sensation, I look for to get around this race track,” said Johnson, who starts fourth in the FedEx 400. “Everything has worked well for me, for (crew chief) Chad Knaus, for the team, our equipment. It’s just been a very good track for us.”

Here’s another indication of how tough Johnson is at Dover: In 24 career starts, he’s finished in the top five 12 times and has only failed to finish twice.

Notebook

No hard feelings: There’s no bad blood between Johnson and Matt Kenseth for Kenseth’s move to block Johnson late in last week’s Coca-Cola 600.

“When it comes to the end of the race, everything is out the window,” said Johnson, who went on to pass Kenseth for the victory. I don’t expect anybody to be polite and courteous and give me all kinds of room.”

Said Kenseth, who finished second to Johnson: “You’ve got to do whatever you can to try to win the race toward the end. Obviously I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stay in front of him as fast as he was, but you still want to try to stay there. As I got farther down the straightaway, it was clear he was going to get in the hole there, so I had to move back up and give him his lane.”

Practice makes perfect: For those drivers all but assured of berths in the Chase, racing at a unique track like Dover, which is also included in the playoffs in the fall, provides a chance to study up.

“It’s the only track that we have that is like this,” said Jeff Gordon. “One-mile, high-banked, big sweeping corners and it’s concrete. You carry a lot of speed into the corner. You have to be really committed to the throttle and the steering wheel.”

Sharing the wealth: Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are the Cup series’ only multiple race winners this season, with two apiece. The 10 different race winners are the most since 2003, when there were 11 through 12 races.


Three things to watch

1. Pole winner Brad Keselowski was fast again in practice on Saturday morning, when he had the fastest lap. He likes the Monster Mile: his win in the fall of 2012 helped kick-start his drive to the championship.

2. If Kyle Busch leads 28 laps Sunday, he will become the 15th driver in NASCAR history to lead at least 10,000 laps in his career. Busch starts on the front row with Keselowski.

3. Logano note after nationwide race .


Observations

• The spring Dover race has a similar feel to the PGA Tour’s tournament at Hilton Head the week after the Masters. After 10 intense days in Charlotte, the NASCAR crowd gets a chance to step back and take a breath at the Monster Mile.

• They’re racing Sunday for one of the coolest trophies in motorsports – a statue of Dover’s ferocious Miles the Monster.

• Looking for a darkhorse? Greg Biffle, winless this year, runs well at Dover. He’s got two career victories and starts 12th.


Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano

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