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NASCAR Dover Preview

by Dave Grayson
Thursday, May 13, 2010

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Bowyer won last year's Nationwide race at Dover
The Nationwide Series will be a major part of the NASCAR weekend at the Dover International Speedway when the green flag falls on Saturday's Helluva Good 200. The one mile concrete oval, known as "The Monster Mile", is wide enough to allow side by side racing and sometimes even three wide racing if there's enough rubber at the top of the track. It's also known for taxing a driver's patience.

THE STORY BREAKDOWN

For quite some time now Jason Keller has been known as the "Iron Man" of NASCAR's Nationwide Series. He hopes to make series history this Saturday by becoming the first  driver to log his official 500th start. But there's one obstacle the driver of the #35 Tri-Star Motorsports Chevrolet will have to overcome to make that history. It's the Saturday morning qualifying session. The team is outside of the top 30 in the series owner's points and is not guaranteed a start in the race. Keller will have to earn his 500th starting berth based on qualifying speed.

The Greenville-South Carolina native began his Nationwide Series career on April 27, 1991 at the Lanier Speedway in Gainesville-Georgia. During the course of subsequent 499 starts he has logged ten wins, 11 Coors Light Poles, 83 top five finishes which is 13th on the series' all time list, and 175 top ten finishes which places him third on the series' list. Over the years he has raced for 12 different team owners including a car prepared by his father, Joe.

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Series veteran Jason Leffler will have his hands full trying to recoup some lost owner's points from last weeks Darlington race involving Braun Racing's #38 Toyota, a car that he actually wasn't driving. Normally, Leffler is the driver of the #38 but on occasion Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne moonlights in the car.

That was the case last week at Darlington. Kahne was in the #38 and Leffler was driving Braun Racing's second #10 Toyota. They finished fourth and fifth respectively in that race. But a problem developed with the #38 Toyota during the post race technical inspection. The car's left front shock absorber failed the inspector's compression test. The inspector fully compresses the shock and it has 90 seconds to return to its original position. The shock on the #38 took considerably longer than the allotted time and was deemed to be an unapproved part.

Last Wednesday NASCAR announced that the team's crew chief, Stewart Cooper, was fined $10,000. Team owner Ralph Braun was docked 25 owner's points and Kahne was docked 25 driver's points. Kahne's lost points is no real concern because of his less than part time status with the team. The owner's points is another issue and Leffler will be looking to make up that deficit, as well as the five lost positions in the standings, Saturday night.

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Driver Brad Keselowski, #22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge, comes to Dover as the series' points leader and holds a 55 points lead over Kyle Busch in second. Keselowski likes the three concrete ovals that the series races on each year. From his nine series wins, three of them have been on concrete based ovals. He's also the defending race winner after slipping by team mates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano following their late in the race contact last year.

Speaking of red hot potential race winners, Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin is currently on a Nationwide Series hot streak. They also have a collective three wins in a row streak at Dover: one win for Busch and two consecutive wins for Hamlin.

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The Nationwide Series' Raybestos Brakes Rookie Of The Year competition was skin tight until an unexpected set of circumstances changed that. Brian Scott, representing Braun Racing, leads those standings with 103 points but it was only a four point advantage of James Buescher of Phoenix Racing.

However, this week James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing, announced that he and Buescher have parted ways. Buescher will reportedly be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the remainder of this year. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman will be in the Phoenix Racing car at Dover.

That creates a definite advantage for driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr of Roush Fenway Racing who is third in the rookie standings and only nine points away from the leader.

On the topic of Roush Fenway Racing rookie drivers, Colin Braun returns to their #16 Conway Freight Ford after a two week hiatus. Braun got off to a horrible start this season. His five DNF's, (did not finish), caused the team to fall out of the top 30 in owner's points which means they were no longer guaranteed a starting berth in the next race.

Roush Fenway Sprint Cup veteran Matt Kenseth drove the Ford in the last two series races. A strong finish at Richmond returned the team to the bottom of the top 30. Unfortunately at Darlington Kenseth was caught up in someone else's on track incident and the team slipped back to 31st in the owner's points.

The pressure will be on Saturday night for young Braun. It's a time for him to show he's worthy of his contract by scoring a good finish and getting his team back inside of the top 30. As Darrell Waltrip has said many times, during a Fox Sports NASCAR broadcast, "it's time for him to either fish or cut bait."

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Many of the teams will be busy next Tuesday and Wednesday testing the NASCAR Nationwide Series' new C.O.T, (Car Of Tomorrow). At least 15 teams, along with 25 drivers, will participate in a verification tire test at Daytona International Raceway. This will be the final test before the new race car makes its official debut during the series' Daytona event set for July 2nd.

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FROM THE NASCAR GOOD GUY FILE

This Friday the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be saluting our military, and their families, by hosting a NASCAR Social at Dover Air Force Base. Included in the festivities is a driver autograph session. Participating drivers include Carl Edwards, Reed Sorenson, Michael Annett, Scott Lagasse Jr, Colin Braun, Brian Scott, Scott Wimmer, Morgan Shepherd, Brad Keselowski and Eric McClure.

Then on Saturday many of the Nationwide Series teams will be treating wounded soldiers and their families to a special race day experience at the Dover International Speedway. Participating teams include Germain Racing, RAB Racing, Braun Racing, R3 Motorsports, Team Rensi Motorsports, Jay Robinson Racing, Faith Motorsports, NEMCO Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing.

The #43 Baker Curb Racing Curb, driven by Scott Lagasse Jr, will again be sporting the American Red Cross logo on their car at the Dover Race. The team wants to remind fans that they can simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross of Nashville to help fund volunteer efforts in the rebuilding of Nashville and the surrounding areas after last week's devastating floods.

Roush Fenway Racing announced that their #16 Citi Financial Ford will be displaying the official logo of the March Of Dimes. and their national March Of Dimes For Babies campaign during Saturday's Dover race. Citi Financial will be sponsoring special fund raising walkathons across the country during the next several weeks.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The Helluva Good 200 is 200 laps around the Dover International Raceways one mile concrete oval.

The race has 47 entries vying for the 43 starting berths. 17 of the entries are on the go or go home list meaning they are outside of the top 30 in owner's point which guarantees a starting berth in the race. These teams will have to make the race based on qualifying speeds.

16 of the entries are double duty drivers or those who will competing in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series events during the NASCAR weekend at Dover.

The Helluva Good 200 will be broadcast live Saturday afternoon by ABC Sports beginning at 2 pm eastern time.

NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series will be bringing their high energy brand of tail gate party to the "Monster Mile" also known as the Dover International Speedway for the running of the Dover 200 this Friday night. The tightly wound one mile all concrete oval is known for challenging both drivers and crew chiefs and it's also known as being a haven for first time series winners.

THE STORY BREAKDOWN

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series each year races on three concrete ovals: Bristol, Nashville and Dover. When you look at which series drivers has the best performance on concrete you're looking at the cream of the crop. That list includes Ron Hornaday Jr, Kyle Busch, Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson. Their driver ratings, and overall numbers, for the trio of concrete ovals are extremely healthy. This is especially true of Busch and Hornaday who are both former winners at Dover.

NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Elliot Sadler will be making his second appearance of the year in the truck series. Sadler will once again drive the #2 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. Best Buy's Insignia brand will be the primary sponsor.

Both of the KHI trucks, for Sadler and Ron Hornaday Jr, will also carry the Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece logo on their trucks. This is a very personal cause for Sadler and his family. His niece, Halie, is autistic.

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Former series champion Johnny Benson will be making his third start of the season in the #15 Red Top Collector Auto Auction Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. So far this has been a very good match up. Benson has double top five finishes in his first two starts. It's safe to assume that team owner Ballew is searching for a full time sponsorship situation that will keep Benson in his truck.

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The Raybestos Brakes Rookie Of The Year battle is tight with only 16 points between the top four drivers. Austin Dillon, #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats/Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, remains on top of the current standings going into Friday night. However he only holds a ten point advantage over Justin Lofton, driver of the #7 Visit Pit.Com Toyota for owner Tom Deloach. Holding down third in the rookie standings is Brett Butler, driver of the #47 Fuel Doctor.Com Chevrolet for owner Bobby Dotter. Fourth in the standings, and only 16 points from the top, is Jennifer Jo Cobb, driver of the #10 Ford Driven Male.Com/Driver Boutique.Com Ford owned by Tom Mitchell.

The standings in the series' Owner's Championships for the moment is a battle between Chevrolets fielded by Kevin Harvick Inc and the Toyotas from Kyle Busch Motorsports. KHI currently holds a slim nine point lead over the Busch teams.

In the series' Manufacturers Championship Chevrolet and Toyota are tied with 36 points each. Ford and Dodge are tied for third with 19 points apiece. By the way, Dodge leads all manufacturers in wins at Dover with four.

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At least four of the teams will depart Dover-Delaware for Pocono-Pennsylvania this weekend for NASCAR mandated testing. The series will be running its first ever event, on the massive 2.5 mile triangle shaped speedway, July 31st.

The teams participating in Monday morning's test include Germain Racing, Green Light Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. The four teams will provide baseline information for the entire series.

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THE RACE BREAKDOWN

The Dover 200 is 200 challenging laps around the "Monster Mile's" one mile concrete oval.

The race has 35 entries for an event that can handle 36 starters. That means the go or go home owner's points policy will not apply for this race and all entries will start the event.

The track has a tendency to favor first time winners. The last two races there has sent a first timer to victory lane. Brian Scott is the defending race champion from last year.

Friday night's Dover 200 will be the 11th appearance at the track by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. There are no repeat winners at Dover for the series. The last ten races has produced ten different winners.

Track position is often based on exiting pit road and not necessarily starting position. In ten years only two truck races have been won from the pole position. The last one to do it was Scott Riggs back in 2001.

The areas of the track worthy of a lot of attention is turns one and two. The drivers come off of the front stretch carrying a lot of speed into turn one. Turn two is a traditional trouble area for the drivers and has often been the scene of multiple truck crashes. Double wide racing is frequent at Dover and, with enough rubber on the track, there has been multiple cases of three wide racing.

Dover is also known for close finishes in this series. The closest finish in the Camping World Truck Series there was 0.210 seconds when Kyle Busch won the race in 2000.

The Dover 200 will be broadcast live Friday night, beginning at 730 pm eastern time, on the SPEED Channel.

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