Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: FedEx 400

Thursday, May 30, 2013


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.

Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners: Brad Keselowski 9/30/12, Jimmie Johnson 6/3/12, Kurt Busch 10/2/11, Matt Kenseth 5/15/11 and Jimmie Johnson 9/26/10.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Norm Benning 6/4/89, Bobby Labonte 6/3/91, Hermie Sadler 6/2/96, Matt Kenseth 9/20/98, Kurt Busch 9/24/00, Carl Long 9/24/00, Tony Raines 6/2/02 and David Ragan 9/24/06.
First Cup pole: Michael Waltrip 6/3/91 and Matt Kenseth 6/2/02
First Cup win:  Martin Truex Jr. 06/04/07.

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.

June 3, 2012: Jimmie Johnson won the FedEx 400 from a second place start in the lineup. It was the No. 48 Chevrolet driver’s second victory in 2012 and his seventh win in 21 races at Dover. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: Pole-sitter No. 55 Mark Martin 43 laps, finished 14th; No. 24 Jeff Gordon 60 laps, finished 13th and Race-winner Johnson led the most laps (289 of 400).

September 30, 2012: Brad Keselowski won the AAA 400, his ninth victory in 118 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It was the No. 2 Dodge driver's fifth victory in 2012 and his first win in six races at Dover. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: Race-winner Keselowski led 14 laps; Pole-sitter No. 11 Denny Hamlin 39 laps, finished eighth; No. 48 Jimmie Johnson 43 laps, finished fourth and No. 18 Kyle Busch led the most laps (302 of 400) and finished seventh.

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 20 finish as track favorites Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. There were 43 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s FedEx / Autism Speaks 400 in Dover, Delaware.

Mid-Pack Picks

Marcos Ambrose has two career wins in Sprint Cup; both at the Watkins Glen road course. If he takes his first oval track checkered flag, his sponsors Stanley and DEWALT will donate $1 million to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to benefit sick and injured children. If he finishes second or third, they will donate $500,000 and $250,000 respectively. Besides this incentive for him to do well on Sunday, Ambrose should be considered on his previous record at the Delaware track. In nine starts at Dover, he averaged an 18.0 finish. Since joining Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011, he improved that average to a 10.0 over the last four trips to the Monster Mile. This is a great weekend to add the No. 9 Ford Fusion to your fantasy roster.

When he was just 17 years old, Joey Logano scored a second place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover. In May 2008, a week after his 18th birthday, Logano made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in the Dover race; started 9th and finished 6th. He has not finished outside the top 14 in his eight NNS Dover races (average 6.5) and he won both 2012 NNS events as well. In eight Sprint Cup starts at this track, he has a best finish of third earned in the 2010 fall race. Logano struggled here in 2011 (27th and 29th) but returned to good form last season with finishes of eighth and 10th. This will be his first Dover start with the Penske team but we think he will continue to show he has a knack for getting around this concrete oval. It is also the first week he has Crew Chief, Car Chief and lead Engineer back following a three-week NASCAR suspension. Find a spot for the No. 22 Ford Fusion this week.

It's time to consider four-time Dover winner Mark Martin for a spot on your team. In 53 starts at the Delaware track, he has a 12.3 average start and a 12.3 average finish. The veteran has improved with age; his average here is now a 9.6 over the last eight Cup starts. He scored the 5th-most championship points of all drivers entered this weekend in those races. Even in his four part-time seasons (2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013); he made sure Dover was on his list of tracks to visit. He still holds the race record of 132.719 mph (09/21/1997) which was also from the pole. Speaking of poles; for the FedEx 400 last season, Martin became the oldest (age 53) pole winner at Dover. He finished 14th in that race. While he hasn't earned a victory here since 2004, you could say the No. 55 Toyota Camry driver has a reasonable shot at another top 20 on Sunday.

Bobby Labonte made his very first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Dover International Speedway on June 3, 1991. Since then, in his 41 starts at the track, he earned one win, three pole awards, 11 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. He led 148 laps and carries an 18.0 average finish. Driving his own Bobby Labonte Racing Pontiac, he won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 1997 at Dover. With finishes of 18th, 26th, 20th and 14th in his last four Sprint Cup races here, we don't expect more than a top 20 from the No. 47 Toyota Camry driver this week. If you need to save some of your top drivers for another event, give Labonte a chance as a fourth or fifth driver in this week's battle with the Monster Mile.



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



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