The Monster Energy Cup Series will compete at Dover International Speedway this week in the Gander RV 400. Most drivers say the Monster Mile feels like the fastest track on the circuit. The cars dive into the corners with a lot of speed and feel like they are in a plane tacking off on the exit. Drivers think it is a fun track to drive and it is a fun race to watch. The Gander RV 400 can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
The MENCS will be back to the 750 HP, 2” splitter and 8” spoiler aero package this week. This rules package was used at Phoenix, Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are the only two drivers to finish all 4 races in the top 10. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer finished 3 of the 4 races in the top 10.
Goodyear brought a new set of tires to Dover. The higher-downforce aero package will allow for higher speeds in the corners. Goodyear wanted to ensure they had a tire that could withstand the corner speed. The Xfinity and Cup Series will use the same tire compound. The MENCS will receive 3 sets of tires for the 3 practices, 1 set for qualifying and 9 sets for the race.
Three drivers tested the new tire package at Dover on April 9th. The drivers included: Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The extra track time should allow for these 3 teams to have a better idea of how the tires will wear during the race.
* NASCAR will inspect the cars Sunday morning. Any car that fails will start in the back and be scored in Fantasy NASCAR from his qualifying position.
Chase Elliott: Elliott has started 6 races at Dover in his career. He has finished 5 of them in the top 5, including a trip to Victory Lane last October. Elliott has also scored Stage points in 7 of the 8 Stages at the track. The No. 9 team will have momentum after their win at Talladega last week. Elliott was complaining about the inconsistency of his car and the bouncing over the bumps. He said, “Sometimes it is tight and then others it is loose. Not sure what is going on with that. The bumps in 1 and 2 hurt the turn into the corner but I try to miss them.”He was 10th fastest at the time.
Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has 11 wins, 3,105 laps led and finished 70% of his races at Dover in the top 10. Johnson ran well in the last 2 races using the current aero package. He finished 10th at Bristol and 12th at Richmond. He usually runs better at the Monster Mile than he does at those tracks. Johnson went to the top of the leaderboard early in practice. He said, “We got what we need.” After his final run Johnson said, “It is really good. I am a little free in the center but that is what I need. Really, no complaints.”
Alex Bowman: Bowman will have some momentum after his second place finish at Talladega but Dover is his worst track. Bowman has never finished inside the top 20 at the Monster Mile. His average starting position is 26.8 and his average finishing position is 29.5. Bowman said his car was “Snappy loose in the center.”
William Byron: Byron has started to show signs that he is able to run in the top 15 in the MENCS. He finished 16th at Bristol and 13th at Richmond using the current aero package. Dover ranks as his 6th best track. He finished 14th and 19th in his 2 races at the Monster Mile in the Cup Series. Byron made some long runs and Chad Knaus said, “You’re doing a fine job. Just remember that entry into the corners .” Byron made another long run and said, “Really good at the start, just loose behind a car. Those last adjustments were what need, just a bigger magnitude,”
Kyle Larson: Can we trust Larson this week. He is one of the best picks on paper. Larson has the 3rd-best driver ranking (108.8) and the 4th-best average finishing position (7.2) in the last 4 races at Dover. He led 378 laps at the track in 2017. Larson has had a lot of bad luck in 2019 and sooner or later his luck will change. Larson said, “Too loose in the center and tight landing. It does have good throttle response. Just tighten it up and we should be good.” He was 7th fastest at the time.
Kurt Busch: Busch has been one of the most consistent drivers in 2019. He has finished every race since Daytona in top 12. He is also the only driver to finish both races at Dover in the top 5 in 2018. Busch finished 2nd at Bristol this season and that should translate into success Sunday. Kurt made a short run and said, “No side bite, the front right is not is the track, the backend has no grip… just a lot going on here.” They told him to bring it in and they would fix it. After his final run Kurt said, “I am way too f**** tight. The ass-end feels 5 feet in the air.” At the end of practice Kurt said, “It is going to be a long F**** race. This car sucks.”
Kevin Harvick: Harvick led 201 laps in the spring race at Dover last year and 286 laps in the fall. The No. 4 car has not been hitting on all cylinders this season but this could be the race that jumpstarts their season. The No. 4 team said they were not concerned with their single-lap speed. They were only working on the long run speed. Rodney Childers told Harvick, “It takes you a while to match the speeds with the top cars but after 15-20 laps you start to blow them away.”
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has never been to Victory Lane at the Monster Mile but he did finish 2nd in this race last year. Bowyer has been one of the best drivers this season without a win. He ran very well at Bristol and that should translate into success this weekend. Bowyer was not happy with the car bouncing in final practice. Bowyer said, “I feel like I am on a F******** trampoline out here.” His car was 9th fastest at the time.
Daniel Suarez: Dover is the best track for Suarez. He has competed in 4 races at the Monster Mile and he has never finished outside the top 10. His average starting position at the track is 8.5 and his average finishing position is 6.75. That is pretty good. Suarez was happy with his car. He said, “It is a little loose on entry but it rotates well through center and my exit is really early. Do not change too much.” Suarez was 5th fastest at the time. Suarez kissed the wall but only had cosmetic damage.
Aric Almirola: Almirola looks like a bad pick this week on paper but looks can be deceiving. Almirola did not run well at Dover while he was at Richard Petty Motorsports. He finished 11th and 13th in his 2 races at the track with Stewart-Haas Racing. He has the skills to run well, now Almirola just needs a fast car. Almirola like his car. He made 3 long runs. They were working on their long run speed and Almirola was quiet on the radio. He was 5th fastest in practice.
Brad Keselowski: Dover ranks as the 18th-best track for Keselowski. He is not that bad though. Keselowski has led laps in the last 3 races at the Monster Mile and scored Stage points in all of the Stage in the last 3 races. Team Penske has been on fire this year so Keselowski should be fine Sunday. Keselowski made a long run and he asked his team, “How do we compare with the competition?” They told him, “Larson is running laps in the 30s while everyone else is running in the 50s. We have a little work to do to catch the 42 car.”
Joey Logano: Logano is having an excellent 2019 season. His average finishing position in the first 10 races is 8.5. Logano finished 3rd at Bristol and 2nd at Richmond. The No. 22 car has been very good this season in the 750 HP aero package. Logano made some long runs and he said, “It is fine by itself, but it is brutal, just brutal in traffic. How many cars are in the race tomorrow?”
Ryan Blaney: Blaney has been one of the best drivers while using the 750 HP aero package this season. He finished 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville and 4th at Bristol. Blaney usually runs well at fast tracks and that is what Dover is. Last year he started 14th and finished 8th in this race.
Paul Menard: Menard has not been very good at Dover in his career. He has 23 starts at the track and he has only finished 2 races in the top 10. His average finishing position in the last 4 races at the Monster Mile is 27.25. Not good. Menard said his car was “too tight” in final practice.
Kyle Busch: Dover is not the best track for Busch but even his stats at his worst tracks are better than most drivers are their best tracks. Busch is on a hot streak right now so he must be considered for your fantasy team. He usually runs a lot better in the fall races at the Monster Mile but 2 of his 3 wins at the track have come in the spring. Busch told his team, “It bounces into 1 and 2 and slides into 3 and 4.” He had a lot of input for Adam Stevens to work with. He was 8th fastest at the time. At the end of practice Busch was trying to run the “Larson line.”
Erik Jones: Jones could be a good sleeper pick this week. Joe Gibbs Racing usually runs well at Dover. Jones qualified 16th and finished 4th in the last race at Dover. The No. 20 team has had speed this year but their luck has been horrible. Jones just needs a little luck to finish up front Sunday. Jones told his team after his run, “Wow that felt fast. It is loose on exit in 1 and 2 but 3 and 4 are hooked up pretty well.” He was 3rd fastest at the time.
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin had a bad season last year but he was still able to finish 2nd and 7th in the two races at Dover. So now he is having one of the best seasons of his career. That could mean Hamlin will have a good chance to win his first race at Dover. Hamlin made a short run to begin practice and he said, “Way too tight.” He was 10th fastest at the time.
Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has an average finishing position of 4.5 at Dover since 2015 (8 races). Last year he qualified 3rd and finished 4th in this race. Truex finally won his first short track race at Richmond and although Dover is not technically a short track, he should have a great chance of winning Sunday. Truex made 2 short runs and they brought him in for adjustements. At the end of practice Truex made a long run and crew chief Cole Pearn told him, “It looks like it is you and the 42 on the speed chart early in the run and the 4 is good on the longest runs. The 4 is running the high side the best and the 42 can pretty much run anywhere he wants.” They seemed to be happy with their car.
Matt DiBendetto: DiBenedetto is really good at Bristol and you would think that would mean he would be very good at Dover too. That has not been the case. DiBenedetto has an average finishing position of 31.1 in his 8 races at the Monster Mile. Maybe the Joe Gibbs Racing alliance will help him finish in the top 20 this week. DiBenedetto was not happy with his car. He said, “Way too tight. I can barely hold onto it.” He was 25th fastest at the time.
Daniel Hemric: Hemric will be making his 1st start at Dover in the MENCS this week. He does have 4 races in the Xfinity Series on his resume. Hemric finished 13th, 4th, 3rd and 7th in his 4 races in the lower level. Hemric made some long runs and said, “It is bouncing too much in Turns 3 & 4, and is too tight in 1 & 2 in the rubber.
Austin Dillon: Dillon has run a lot better than where he has finished this season. He has a 9.8 average running position in the 4 races using the 750 HP aero package. His average finishing position is 12.8 in those races. Dillon did have success in the last race at the Monster Mile. The No. 3 car qualified 14th and finished 7th. Dillon made some long runs and said, “It is too tight into the gas.” He was having a problem getting into the gas early off the exit of the corners. At the end of practice Dillon was complaining his splitter was hitting the track.
Ty Dillon: When we evaluate Dillon for this race we need to look at his stats from 2019 and not what he did in previous years at the track. The No. 13 Chevy is outperforming their previous stats at almost every track in 2019. Dillon finished 15th at Phoenix, 13th at Martinsville, 15th at Bristol and 21st at Richmond in the current aero package. He should finish near the top 15 again this week. Dillon said, “Our balance is okay through the middle, but I get pretty tight on exit and lose my front turn,” Dillon said after his last laps, “Too loose on entry and I’m traveling over the bumps,” “But middle through exit I’m pretty happy with it.”
Ryan Preece: Preece will be making his first start at Dover in the MENCS. He does have 3 races in the Xfinity Series on his resume. His average finishing position in those races is 20.3 but 2 of them were in underfunded cars. Preece finished 4th last year while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series.
Chris Buescher: Buescher has spent a lot of time running in the top 10 while using the 750 HP engines this season. The problem is that he only has a 20.2 average finishing position. Sooner or later the No. 37 team is going to figure out how to finish as well as they run in the races. Buescher was having problems with his car getting over the bumps. He came in and they worked on the car. Buescher then said, “That is much better.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse could be a good sleeper pick this week. He always runs well at Bristol and this is a similar track. Last year Stenhouse qualified 21st and finished 9th at Dover. He just needs to keep from overdriving the car. Stenhouse had problems with his steering box in final practice. The team spent a lot of time working on it.
Ryan Newman: Newman is starting to heat up. He has finished his last 3 races in the top 10 and 2 of those races were in cars using the 750 HP aero package that will be used this week. Neman could be a good sleeper pick this week. Newman told Jamie Little from Fox, “We are just working on getting the balance right. We have a lot of work to do.”
Cars that looked good in practice: Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones
Good Sleeper Picks: Aric Almirola, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Ty Dillon
MENCSl Final Practice Speeds
Best 10-Lap Avg. Speed
Best 15-Lap Avg. Speed
Best 20-Lap Avg. Speed
Saturday Morning Practice Speeds (CANCELED)
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