Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: AAA 400

Thursday, September 26, 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: Tony Stewart 6/2/13, Brad Keselowski 9/30/12, Jimmie Johnson 6/3/12, Kurt Busch 10/2/11 and Matt Kenseth 5/15/11.
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.
September 30, 2012: Brad Keselowski (2 Dodge) won the AAA 400, his ninth victory in 118 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It was his 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.
June 2, 2013: Tony Stewart (14 Chevrolet) won the FedEx 400, his 48th victory in 513 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This was his first 2013 victory, third top-10 finish in 2013 and his third victory in 29 races at Dover. Stewart led only three laps. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya 19 laps, finished second; No. 20 Matt Kenseth 29 laps, blown engine (40th); Pole-sitter No. 11 Denny Hamlin 41 laps, wrecked (34th); No. 48 Jimmie Johnson 143 laps, finished 17th and No. 18 Kyle Busch led the most laps (150 of 400) and finished fourth.

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 AAA 400 in Dover, Delaware.

Mid-Pack Picks
AJ Allmendinger (47 Toyota) said this week about Dover: "It is probably one of my favorite tracks that we race on the circuit. Stat-wise it is one of my better tracks." If your game gives points for qualifying, AJ is your guy. He lined-up eighth or better in five of his last six Dover starts. In the 2010 edition of the AAA 400, he started second, led 143 of the first 200 laps, blew a tire and went down a lap. He recovered to finish in 10th place. Allmendinger has top-16 finishes in five of his last six starts at the Delaware mile. The other race (May 2011) resulted in a 37th place due to a blown motor. Find a spot on your team for the Dinger this weekend.

Mark Martin (14 Chevrolet) not only has four Cup wins at Dover (tied with Jeff Gordon for second-most behind Jimmie Johnson), he leads an impressive list of drivers in other series stats at the track. He has five poles (Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon each have four). He has eight runner-up finishes here (the late Dale Earnhardt is second with five). He leads with 24 top-fives at Dover (Earnhardt is second with 19) and leads in top-10s with 33 (Richard Petty and Ricky Rudd are tied for second with 26 each). In the last three races at the Monster Mile, Martin finished 14th, third and ninth. Oh yeah, the No. 14 team is also bringing the same car that Tony Stewart drove to victory here in June. Enough said. Put Martin in your lineup.

Aric Almirola (43 Ford) is also a Dover fan. He said this week: "Dover is my most favorite race track to go to. The track is just a lot of fun to drive around and even more fun to race on." In his three Cup starts here he posted finishes of sixth, 19th and 18th which puts him in our top-20 group. Almirola earned a win at the track in his one and only NASCAR K&N Pro Series-East race (2008). He also drove a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry to a victory at the concrete track in 2010. This is a good week to give him consideration for a spot on your fantasy roster.

Jeff Burton (31 Chevrolet) will be making his 40th start at the Delaware concrete oval. His overall average finish at Dover in the Cup series is a 15.6. What's more impressive is that since June 2005, he finished 16th or better in 15 of the 17 races held at the track. NASCAR Media's loop data shows Burton second in the Green Flag Passes category for those 17 races as well. The charger from Virginia passed 793 cars while the race was under green flag conditions. In the last eight Cup races held at this venue, only track favorite Jimmie Johnson scored more driver points than Burton. We think he's a safe choice to round out your team at the Monster Mile.



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



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