The third race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup is at the “Monster Mile,” Dover International Speedway, home of the AAA 400 on Sunday, as well as the Nationwide Series 5-Hour Energy 200 benefitting Living Beyond Breast Cancer on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing will bring three teams to the track for each race, but since this is the Chase, all eyes will be focused on the No. 1 and 2 drivers in points, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch.
Kenseth, who has yet to relinquish his first-place position after two races, will drive the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry at the one-mile track. A seven-time winner so far in 2013, Kenseth has two wins and 18 top 10s in 29 races at Dover, the track where he made his Cup Series debut in 1998.
Busch, driving the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the Cup Series race, has four wins on the season and sits just 14 points back of Kenseth after back-to-back runner-up finishes to his teammate in the first two Chase races. At Dover, Busch also has two Cup Series wins along with 11 top 10 finishes in 17 races. He will also drive the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, hoping to add to the 10 wins he already has this season in the series. Busch has three wins and 11 top 10s in 16 Nationwide Series races at Dover, along with three poles.
“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging,” said Busch on his website. “They’re all a challenge, but Dover is especially so, just because of the way you have to run around that place. The way tires sometimes wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turn rather than down the straightaway, so you definitely have to make sure you have a good-handling racecar - one that’s good in the beginning of the run on low air pressures and one that’s good at the end of the run on high air pressures, and even through traffic, too. Some of the most challenging times are when you’re trying to get through traffic with guys.”
Denny Hamlin, coming off his best finish since the June Pocono race (12th at New Hampshire), will drive the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota at Dover, a track where he has five top 10 finishes and two poles, both of which came in the last two races at the “Monster Mile.” Hamlin finished 34th in the June race at Dover.
Joining Busch in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday are regulars Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers. Sadler, in the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota, has five top 10 finishes in 11 Nationwide Series races at Dover, a track where he also made 24 starts in the Cup Series. Vickers, in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, has five top 10 finishes, including a win, in six Dover Nationwide Series starts; he finished second in the spring race this year.
“Dover is a unique place,” said Sadler. “It has a lot of banking, which makes it a pretty fast track. I have run well there in the past, but we struggled in the June race. We fought a loose handling car all day and I just got too loose and spun. We feel that we have a good handle on this weekend and hope to make up some ground in the points standings. All we can do now is fight for every position and race for the win as aggressively as we can. Dover is so close to OneMain Financial’s headquarters in Baltimore, so we definitely want to perform well and hopefully get this No. 11 Toyota in victory lane at the ‘Monster Mile.’”
Qualifying for the AAA 400 will take place Friday at 3:10 p.m. ET, with the green flag waving on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Qualifying for the 5-Hour Energy 200 benefitting Living Beyond Breast Cancer takes place Saturday at 12:05 p.m. ET, with the race going green at 3:30 p.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com and joegibbsracing.com.
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