Johnson attempts to join quartet of NASCAR Hall of Famers

2015Dover_JimmieJohnson10

Only four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have amassed 10 or more wins at a single track.

They are all NASCAR Hall of Famers.

Richard Petty (Martinsville, 15; North Wilkesboro, 15; Richmond, 13; Rockingham, 11; and Daytona, 10;), Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, 12; Martinsville, 11; and North Wilkesboro, 10;), Dale Earnhardt (Talladega, 10); and David Pearson (Darlington, 10) are all members of the exclusive club.

With a victory in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway (1 p.m. E.T. on FOX Sports 1), six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson can join them.

The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has been statistically dominant at the “Monster Mile,” boasting a track record nine wins, along with three Coors Light Poles, 14 top fives and 19 top 10s in 26 starts. He also leads the series at Dover in driver rating (122.3), average running position (6.5), fastest laps run (1,106), average finish (8.2) and laps led (2,976).

“Dover isn’t easy, but it just suits my driving style and I love it,” Johnson said.

If Johnson leads 24 or more laps on Sunday, he will surpass the 3,000 laps led mark at Dover, becoming the seventh driver in series history to lead 3,000 or more laps at a single track. Jeff Gordon is the only other active driver to accomplish the feat (Martinsville – 3,744 laps led).

“I’d have to say Dover is probably one of the most technical tracks we go to,” Johnson said. “Setup is key. Communication between driver and crew chief is key.”

Johnson won last year’s Dover spring race, but his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon took the checkered flag in the fall event at the one-mile oval. Gordon owns five wins at the “Monster Mile” and will likely be Johnson’s toughest competition.

Gordon claims the new rules package will force drivers to navigate the track differently.

“We won the race in September here last year, but this is a different rules package with reduced horsepower,” Gordon said. “We’re going to be carrying more speed through the center of the corners this year, and the car will need to ‘rotate’ so you can get back in the gas quickly.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. to ‘Dash 4 Cash’ at Dover, improve on season-best finish

Darrell Wallace Jr. set some lofty goals prior to the start of his first full-time NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

Darrell Wallace Jr.. (Getty Images)

Darrell Wallace Jr.. (Getty Images)

He did not simply hope to perform well.

He set his mind on capturing the series championship.

“Chase Elliott set the bar high,” said Wallace in February. “Before coming into a new series (a goal) would be like, ‘finish top five in the points, get a win.’ (Now it’s) a championship. That’s the only thing on the agenda is get a championship. I have full confidence that we can get that done.”

Eleven races into the XFINITY Series season, Wallace sits fourth in the standings, 30 points out of the first-place spot held by his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Chris Buescher.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next alumn has come on strong in the last two weeks following a sixth-place finish at Iowa Speedway with a career-best showing of fifth at Charlotte.

He looks to continue his momentum in Saturday’s Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX), his preferred track.

“I’m really excited to get to Dover this season, Wallace said. “This place is my favorite track to race at.  It’s the only place I’ve raced where you have to give respect to get respect.  We’ve always ran well there.”

In his lone XFINITY Series start at the “Monster Mile” in 2012, Wallace earned the Coors Light Pole and finished 12th. A year later, he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole at Dover leading 119-of-200 laps before finishing 10th. As an even younger driver competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the now-21-year-old Wallace earned one victory, two poles and a second-place finish in three Dover starts.

In addition to the opportunity to further climb the standings, Wallace also has the chance to win $100,000 on Saturday and give himself the opportunity to win $1 million later this season through the XFINITY Series’ Dash 4 Cash program. He qualified for the Dash 4 Cash as one of the top four drivers registered for XFINITY Series points at Charlotte last weekend. Ty Dillon, Regan Smith and Daniel Suarez were the others.

To earn the $100,000, Wallace has to finish highest among the four at Dover. He can win up to $1 million throughout the season depending on his finishes in the remaining Dash 4 Cash races (Indianapolis, Bristol and Darlington).

“I’m glad to be one of the four (in the Dash 4 Cash),” said Wallace following Charlotte. “We just have to keep playing smart and put ourselves in that position next week to come out on top.”

Custer cruises to Dover for second Trucks start of 2015

Despite not being a full-time driver, Cole Custer is a familiar name in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 20 2014:  Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

LOUDON, NH – SEPTEMBER 20 2014: Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet driver became the youngest winner in NASCAR national series history last year when he took the checkered from the pole at New Hampshire (16 years, 7 months, 28 days). Three months prior to his New Hampshire triumph, he etched his place in NASCAR’s record books at Gateway Motorsports Park outside of St. Louis as the youngest national series pole winner (16 years, 4 months, 22 days).

Don’t forget Custer competes for JR Motorsports, owned by NASCAR’s 12-time Most Popular Driver Award Winner – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The talented youngster will run his second race of the season on Friday in the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway (5:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1). He will attempt to improve on his 16th-place March finish at Martinsville.

“I’m excited heading to Dover,” Custer said. “We’re bringing a strong truck and all the guys have been working real hard to make that possible.”

The NASCAR Next member placed 14th at the “Monster Mile” last season, moving up 14 spots from his 28th qualifying position.

“Dover is a place I’ve been fast at in the past, so if we can replicate that and keep our nose clean, we can compete for a win,” Custer said. “It’s my job to stay calm and focused the whole time because things happen in a hurry there.”

NASCAR Race Weekend Guide

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Race: FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks

Track: Dover International Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, May 31 at 1 p.m. ET

Tune-In: FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (400 laps)

What To Watch For: Jimmie Johnson is a monster at the ‘Monster Mile.’ With nine victories at the one-mile venue, he looks to become the fifth driver with 10 or more wins at a single track. … Dover will signal the halfway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ 26-race regular season. Open spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs are dwindling, fast. … Jeff Gordon remains winless in his final full-time season. But, his last win came at Dover during last year’s Chase.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Race: Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket

Track: Dover International Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Tune-In: FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps)

What To Watch For: Dover hosts the opener in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash. The top finisher among championship contenders Ty Dillon, Regan Smith, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suarez will win $100,000. … Chris Buescher saw his points lead cut in half at Charlotte, from eight going into Charlotte to the current cushion of four. Dillon, who held the points lead after six of the 11 races this season, is second.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Race: Lucas Oil 200

Track: Dover International Speedway

Date and Time: Friday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. ET

Tune-In: FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps)

What To Watch For: NASCAR’s future will be on display Friday evening, as four NASCAR Next drivers will compete – Cole Custer, Austin Hill, John Hunter Nemechek and Jesse Little, who will make his national series debut. … Erik Jones, himself a NASCAR Next alum, aims for his first victory of 2015. Jones has led the most laps in each of the last two races (Kansas and Charlotte), but was a hard-luck loser in both. … Kyle Busch, who is not entered, has won the last two Dover races.

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