Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Dover: FedEx 400

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Track history: Known as the "Monster Mile", the one-mile concrete oval Dover International Speedway hosted its first Cup race in 1969. Two years later, the NASCAR races were extended to 500 miles and continued up until 1993 when its present 400-mile format was established.

Engine failures were common in the 500-mile races. Since the track has banked straightaways as well as the turns, rpm's stay at a high level throughout the lap. Dover has 24-degree banking in the turns and 9-degree banking on the 1,076-foot frontstretch and backstretch.

The Nationwide Series joined Cup racing at Dover in 1982 giving the facility a larger weekend crowd. This, in turn, triggered grandstand expansions which continued for 16 consecutive seasons.

The Indy Racing League began running at Dover in 1998. Tony Stewart, in an open-wheel car, set a track record of over 185 mph around the 1-mile oval. Two years later, Kurt Busch won the first NASCAR Truck Series race (from the pole).

During the mid-1990's the facility made some dramatic improvements. For the fans, after Delaware passed a law allowing them to exist at horse racing facilities, Dover Downs installed several slot machines. For the drivers, the asphalt track was ripped up and replaced by a concrete surface. This made for a faster, smoother and more competitive race.

In 2006, Dover announced plans for the "Monster Makeover," a multi-year capital improvement project. A new skybox complex, luxury suites, additions to the media center, renovated restroom facilities, a new sound system and an expanded hospitality tent village was completed in 2007. The addition of the 46-foot 'Miles the Monster' Monument, expansion of the FanZone area and a new emergency services building were introduced in 2008. In 2009, construction was focused on pit road, including a 1,592 foot SAFER barrier, a 43rd pit stall (had only 42 prior) and all pit stalls were lengthened by 4 feet. Also, by eliminating all grass on the frontstretch and in Turn 4, the new pit wall was set closer to the apron of the track, creating a wider pit road.

July 6, 1969: David Pearson put the Holman-Moody No. 17 Ford on the pole with a qualifying lap of 130.43 mph to lead the 32 car field for the 1969 Mason-Dixon 300. He led 26 of the 300 lap event but wrecked after 65 laps and placed 23rd. The Petty Enterprises No. 43 Ford, driven by Richard Petty, rolled off 3rd at the start, led 150 laps and finished 6 laps ahead of 2nd place, Sonny Hutchins and his No. 90 Ford. Petty earned $4,725 for the victory.

May 16, 2010: Simply put.. the May 15-16, 2010 weekend at Dover was all Kyle Busch. On Saturday he poled the Nationwide Series race and led 191 of the 200 lap Heluva Good! 200 before taking the checkered flag. On Sunday, the No. 18 M&M's Toyota driver led 131 laps in the Autism Speaks 400. 56-Martin Truex Jr. started on the pole and finished 12th. The only other driver of note was 48-Jimmie Johnson. He led 225 laps and was in the lead when he made his final pit stop with about 45 to go. He got caught speeding exiting the pits and had to do a pass-thru penalty. Johnson and Busch might have battled for the lead at the end but, instead, Johnson finished a lap down in 16th.

September 26, 2010: Jimmie Johnson won the AAA 400 from the pole. It was the No. 48 Chevrolet driver's 6th victory in 2010 and his 6th victory at Dover. Drivers leading 5 or more laps: No. 09-Bobby Labonte (5 laps, finished 27th), 18-Kyle Busch (46, finished 6th) and 43-AJ Allmendinger (143, finished 10th) and Johnson led the most (191).

Your fantasy game won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. There were 44 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday's FedEx 400 in Dover, Delaware.

Mid-Pack picks

Jeff Burton hopes to break an 87-race winless streak this weekend at a track where he's earned a win and 15 top-10 finishes in 34 starts. That win in 2006 broke a 176-race winless streak. Burton came close to victory in his last two trips to Dover with runner-up finishes in both 2010 events. The charger from Virginia leads the series in green flag passes at this track. Over the last 12 Dover Sprint Cup races, Burton passed 525 cars while the race was under green flag conditions. He blew an engine last week at Darlington and was credited with a 33rd. The three prior races ended in an 11th at Fort Worth, a 16th at Talladega and another 16th at Richmond. Give Burton a look for another attempt at ending a long winless stretch this week.

Dover is considered Martin Truex Jr.'s home turf. He said this week he'd "like to turn a good season into a great one this weekend. It will be my 200th Sprint Cup start. It's also where I won my first Sprint Cup race and last year I got my first pole with the team. A lot of good things have happened there and it's one of my favorite tracks." In 10 starts at Dover, he has one win, one pole and three top-10 finishes. Both his start and finish averages here are 17th place. Truex, who started on the pole, finished the 2010 Spring race in 12th. He also racked up two wins and two runner-ups in 12 Nationwide Series starts at this track.

Joey Logano is ranked 2nd in NASCAR Statistics Quality Passes category (passing while running in the top 15). He scored the 4th most points in the two 2010 Dover races with his finishes of 10th and 3rd. Logano took an early liking to DIS. At the age of 17, he started and finished 2nd in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race here. His start and finish averages in four Nationwide Series races are 5th and 6th. He scored 2nd places finishes, both from the pole, in the last two of those races. Logano is currently 25th in the point standings but we think he'll improve on that this weekend.

Jamie McMurray is one of only two drivers with more than 10 Cup starts (the other is favorite Edwards) that finished all of his Dover races (zero DNF's). That string was almost broken in the 2010 running of this race. He was running in the top 10 (high as 3rd) when a tire blew and broke the trailing arm. After extensive repairs he finished the race 46 laps down in 32nd. He came back in the fall, started 7th and scored a 13th place. In 16 Cup starts, he led 131 laps and picked up five top tens. McMurray earned a 3rd place finish at Dover in the Nationwide Series last season driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team. Coming off a 9th at Darlington Raceway, we think this would be a good week to look at the No. 1 for a fourth or fifth driver.


Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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