Friday, September 21, 2007

The real racing starts at Dover

What do Dover and Denver have in common?
1. They both start with D
2. They are both state Capitol Cities
3. They both have sports mascots named "Miles"
"Miles"is the name shared by the fuzzy Bronco mascot of Invesco Field at Mile High,
the home of the Denver Broncos, and by Dover International Speedway's mascot Miles the Monster. Denver is a mile high, DIS is a mile long.
The Monster Mile is a high banked oval, not unlike that of Bristol, except it's twice as long. This is where the real racing of the Chase for the Championship begins, because, unlike the paperclip mile of Loudon, the Dover speedway allows passing and multiple groove racing. We don't often see the long single file line of cars at Dover that we see at Loudon.
There is no doubt that these guys are going to race. We probably won't see a repeat of the top finishing positions being filled by the Chasers--the other teams are desperately running for points positions to get or stay in the coveted top thirty five in points. Though they will try their best to avoid wrecking any of the championship chasers, 31 drivers will be on the wheel giving it all for team and sponsor.
The affable Colombian, whom I like to call Johnny Paul Montoya (no disrespect or comparison meant to Kevin Harvick's beloved and late-lamented Father-in-Law, John Paul Lindeville), wants to prove, in his rookie year, that he can win on an oval track. He likes Dover, he likes the Formula N car, and he has shown his affection by taking a front row starting position. This should make for an exciting start of the race, because Chase points leader Jimmie Johnson lines up to Johnny Paul's left, on the pole. This means, because both drivers are known to be aggressive at the drop of the green flag, we will see plenty of action from the very start of the race. We will be watching the first few laps of the race with a feeling of impending doom, hoping that our favorite drivers can manage to avoid the inevitable wreck between the two not-so-popular drivers.
Provided that half the field isn't taken out by a disastrous wreck in the early stages of the race, we should be in for a thrilling race very much in contrast to last week's.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wants to show the world, especially his fans, that he can win a race in the #8 DEI car. He believes he has the car, and the horsepower, to make that happen at Dover. We know he has the skill, he just needs the luck.
Brian Vickers also made the race. I would like to believe that if Vickers were as aggressive as Kyle "The Schrub" Busch, he would still be driving for Hendrick. But he is aggressive enough, and we know that whenever he makes a race in his Red Bull Toyota, he races hard and well. He will definitely be a factor in Sunday's race.
The speedway at Dover can indeed be a monster, with a treacherous pit lane entry that has taken a toll, including the famous crash by Matt Kenseth a couple of years ago. Green flag pit stops will be a large part of the thrill of the race. That is, if there are green flag pit stops.
As for Kenseth, I will say here and now, that he may be the one to beat for the championship when it all comes down to Homestead at the end of the season. His skill ranks right up there with the skill of Smoke and The Gordon. He will creep up in the points, throughout the Chase.
There are five other Chase drivers who, along with Kenseth, have won at Dover. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Martin Truex, Jr have all been to victory lane at DIS. Of these, it seems that Truex, Jr. the winner of the June race at Dover, is being given the best odds to win.
However, we should expect the winner to come from outside the Chase drivers. Why? Because it's Dover, and nobody has ever been consistent at taming the Monster. If a previous winner takes the checkered flag, I expect it to be Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, or Dale Earnhardt, Jr., based upon skill and pure determination. I won't try to guess which one, but I will hazard a guess at the relative running order in which the Chasers finish the race: Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick,Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Jimmy Johnson. DNF for Johnson because he and JPM wrecked on lap 5 and the Knaus Krew could not find the right miracle to get the car fixed well enough for it to run among the leaders.
This should be fun to compare to what really happens!
Your Chaser relative finishing order picks are welcome in the comments section. Sorry, no real prizes, just the satisfaction of telling me "I told you so!"


Anonymous said...

Truex,Labonte,Kyle Busch,Newman and that is what you call going out on a limb...there will be a melee in the early laps taking out several contenders for the chase..the canatankerous part of me would love to see a complete upset of the old apple cart just to make things interesting...

RevJim said...

Wouldn't it be something to see a five or six way tie for the Championship going into Homestead?