What a whirlwind of a weekend it was at Dover International Speedway. For the many times the current rules package led to an uneventful race, Sunday’s race proved to be one of the best under the current package. Leading into the weekend, all eyes were on Jimmie Johnson as the favorite. Undeniably, Johnson is the most dominant driver at Dover International Speedway, and certainly the one to beat. Kevin Harvick went into Sunday having to win in order to advance at a track where he has previously struggled to win. What a sight it was on Sunday when the tables turned.
Due to a failed part, Johnson found himself behind the wall in the garage under repair. Thirty-seven laps down, Johnson returned to the track but could only muster a 42nd place finish. Although Johnson was seated fifth in the points going into Dover, it wasn’t enough to keep him above the cutoff. The spread in the Chase is so close, that Johnson’s poor finish resulted in elimination from the Chase.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray had a race within a race. The two drivers became tied with points in the Chase, and the tiebreaker went to the driver with the best finish in the current round. During the final caution, McMurray beat Earnhardt Jr. off of pit road by one position. After the final restart, Earnhardt Jr. was able to get by McMurray with an outside pass, advancing one position ahead of him. The two drivers finished the race third and fourth, but Earnhardt Jr. was the one who advanced to the next round of the Chase, eliminating McMurray.
From the drop of the green flag, Kevin Harvick proved he was on a mission and dominated the majority of the race. Leading 355 out of the 400 laps, winning multiple restarts, and having fast stops on pit road, the No. 4 team quickly proved they would not give up. Eight cautions later, Harvick won the final restart and never looked back. He captured the checkered flag for his third win this season, first at Dover, and advanced to the second round of the Chase.
In addition to Johnson and McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard were the other two drivers eliminated from the first round of the Chase.
Another Silly Season announcement came this week when long-time Jeff Gordon sponsor, AXALTA, announced they will be a primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 car in 2016.
Prepare for another wet race day as NASCAR returns home to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the third time this season. A 1.5 mile quad oval with twenty-four degree banking in the turns, this track is one where several drivers excel above the rest. Drivers will maneuver 334 laps around the track to complete the Bank of America 500. This week’s Fast Five is based on drivers’ past performances at Charlotte and similar tracks.
The Fast Five for Charlotte Motor Speedway includes: Matt Kenseth, who is currently one of the most dominant drivers, and has performed well on intermediate tracks this season; Kyle Busch, who is almost always a strong contender at Charlotte; Kasey Kahne, who hasn’t had the strongest season, but is usually in contention for a win at Charlotte; Denny Hamlin, who won the All-Star race at Charlotte earlier this year and has been a strong contender in the Chase; and Kevin Harvick, who is a strong intermediate track racer and will be carrying plenty of momentum into the weekend.
Tune into the race Saturday at 7:00 p.m on NBC.