Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: The Monster Mile

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Track history: Known as the "Monster Mile", the one-mile concrete oval Dover International Speedway hosted its first 300-mile 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.

Active drivers who made their Cup series debut at Dover:

Bobby Labonte on June 3, 1991, Hermie Sadler on June 2, 1996, Matt Kenseth on September 20, 1998, Kurt Busch on August 8, 2000, Tony Raines on June 2, 2002 and David Ragan on September 24, 2006.

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 15, 2011: Matt Kenseth won the FedEx 400 from a 24th place start in the lineup. It was the No. 17 Ford driver’s 2nd victory of 2011 and his 2nd win at Dover. Drivers leading 5 or more laps: No. 5 Mark Martin (6 laps, finished 2nd), No. 33 Clint Bowyer (29 laps, finished 6th), race-winner Kenseth led 33 laps, No. 99 Carl Edwards (117 laps, finished 7th) and pole-sitter No. 48 Jimmie Johnson led the most laps (207) and finished 9th.

October 2, 2011: Kurt Busch won the FedEx 400 from a 2nd place start in the lineup. It was the No. 22 Dodge driver’s 2nd victory of 2011 and his 1st win at Dover in 23 starts. Pole-sitter, Martin Truex Jr., led 2 laps, had to pit under green for a blown tire and finished 30th. Drivers leading 5 or more laps: No. 31 Jeff Burton (8 lap, finished 11th), No. 43 AJ Allmendinger (8 laps, finished 7th), No. 29 Kevin Harvick (10 laps, finished 10th), race-winner Busch led 90 laps, No. 99 Carl Edwards (116 laps, finished 3rd) and No. 48 Jimmie Johnson led the most laps (157) and finished 2nd.

Fantasy games 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 46 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

In 36 Cup starts at this track, Jeff Burton has a 15.2 average finish. How has he fared in his last 14 Dover starts? He averaged an 8.7 finish, won the fall 2006 race, had worst finishes of 16th in both 2009 races, finished runner-up in the two 2010 races and earned an 11th place in both 2011 Dover events. NASCAR Media's loop data shows Burton at the top of the category of Green Flag Passes for those 14 races as well. The charger from Virginia passed 660 cars while the race was under green flag conditions. He averaged a 13.5 running position in those most recent races. This is an excellent week to consider the No. 31 Chevrolet for your team.

Mark Martin has a 12.2 average start and a 12.4 average finish in 51 Cup trips to the Delaware track. He improved his average to a 9.2 for the last 14 races. In the most recent seven of those races he logged three top fives and only one finish outside of the top 15. He scored the 4th-most championship points of all drivers entered this weekend in those seven races. Martin ran a couple of part-time Cup seasons over the last five years but he made sure Dover was on his schedule of tracks to visit. While he earned the last of his four wins at the Monster Mile 16 races ago (June 2004), you could say he has a reasonable shot at another top-15 on Sunday.

Last week we picked Marcos Ambrose and it looked like a good choice. He started 2nd, took the lead on the first lap and ran in the top two or three for the first 125 laps. He had a left front hub go bad at the half-way point and after repairs he finished 33 laps down in 32nd. We like him again this week where he is looking to score his third consecutive top-ten finish at the Delaware track. In eight Dover starts, Ambrose has one top-five, two top-ten and three top-15 finishes. He spent almost 95 percent of the two 2011 races running in the top 15. Give the “man from down under” a spot on your roster this weekend.

AJ Allmendinger said: “I love going to Dover. It’s my favorite track on the circuit. It has high banks, it’s really fast and I’ve had a lot of success there.” He points to the September 2010 AAA 400 as the “big one that got away. I led 143 laps in that race and I had a car that was capable of winning until a flat tire took me out of contention on Lap 200.” He started that race on the front row in 2nd and still managed to finished in 10th place. If your game gives points for qualifying, AJ is your guy. His worst start was 8th in the last four races here. Allmendinger has four top-15 finishes in the last five Dover races. The other race, this event in 2011, resulted in a 37th place due to a blown motor. Round out your team with the Dinger this weekend.



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



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