Dover & Las Vegas Weekend Preview

Kyle Larson (Getty Images)
Kyle Larson (Getty Images)
Kyle Larson (Getty Images)

Larson holds final Chase transfer spot heading into Dover cutoff

So far, so good in Kyle Larson’s first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver holds the final transfer spot to the Round of 12 by five points over his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray heading into Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 Chase cutoff race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Larson finished 18th in the Chase opener at Chicagoland and 10th last Sunday at New Hampshire, but still has some work to do.

“It’s better to be 12th than 13th,” Larson said of his Chase position. “I have a five-point lead on the next guys and I just have to be smart, pay attention to where they are on the race track and just points race really. Hopefully I can transfer to the next round.”

Past history indicates Larson shouldn’t have much trouble on Sunday. He placed runner-up at Dover in the spring and owns two top-five and four top-10 finishes in five starts there for a career average finish of 6.2.

“We always seem to run really well at Dover, so that’s a positive,” Larson said. “We came close to winning there earlier this year. There are probably some things I could’ve done different to get the win. I’m excited to go back. Hopefully our race car has even more speed than it did earlier in the year so I can try to get a win and advance.”

Brandon Jones upbeat about Chase chances

Brandon Jones believed he had at least top-five car in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase opener Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. Unfortunately, he got collected in a wreck involving cars piloted by two drivers not in the driver’s Chase – the No. 88 and No. 42 Chevrolets driven by Josh Berry and Justin Marks, respectively.

Brandon Jones (Getty Images)
Brandon Jones (Getty Images)

As a result of the wreck, Jones finished 26th. He now sits 11th on the Chase Grid, 15 points behind Blake Koch on the cutoff line,  heading into the penultimate race of the Round of 12 – Saturday’s Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

“We’re not too far out here,” Jones said of his Chase advancement chances. “We did get into an incident at Kentucky that got us into kind of a hole for the Dover race. We’ll see how everything plays out. I think we’re going to be alright here, maybe top five, top 10 and advance to the next round (after Charlotte). I think we’re not too far out and we can still come out of this.”

Jones finished 25th in his lone NASCAR XFINITY Series start at Dover earlier this season, but has finished fourth, eighth and 20th in three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series runs at the Monster Mile.

“Dover is probably one of the tracks I’ve been to most on the schedule with the (NASCAR) K&N (Pro Series East) cars and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” Jones said. “You learn something new every time you come back to a race track, but obviously, the more you go to a race track the more you do know about it. I think unloading we’ll be really fast off the truck. I won’t have to take too much time getting back on the track and learning everything, so that’s going to be in our favor for sure.”

Despite his deficit with two races left until the Chase field shrinks from 12 to eight, Jones remains composed.

“I think if you start freaking yourself out too much, you’re going to get a little sweaty on the race track and start worrying a little too much about where you’re at when there’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “My guys will get us right where we need to be and if it wasn’t for that little incident (at Kentucky), we’d be sitting really, really well. We’re just going to do the same thing we’ve been doing all year long, trying to get ourselves in the top five, and we’ll be just fine for that next round.”

Hemric in search of breakthrough win to advance in Chase

Daniel Hemric picked the worst possible time to have car trouble.

Daniel Hemric (Getty Images)
Daniel Hemric (Getty Images)

In last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Hemric cut his left tire and brake line which caused him to place a season-worst 28th. Heading into the event, the No. 19 Brad Keselowski driver was riding a streak of four consecutive top-three finishes, including a runner-up at Chicagoland Speedway. As a result of his poor showing, Hemric sits last in the Chase standings, 21 points behind the cutoff line with two races left before the Round of 6.

To advance to the Round of 6, Hemric either needs to get a win – a feat he has never achieved in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – or perform well while other Chase drivers get into similar trouble as he did at New Hampshire. He can put himself back into championship contention beginning with Saturday’s DC Solar 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

“We’ll go into the race with the mindset of knowing what we need to do to move forward in this Chase,” said Hemric, who leads the series with 13 top-10 finishes. “Starting the race a little earlier in the day changes how we approach practice, how tight or loose we need our Ford F-150 to be. We just need to unload a fast truck and go in the right direction all day to make sure we give ourselves a shot that night.”

Hemric finished sixth in his only career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Las Vegas last season. He comes back in a Brad Keselowski Racing machine; last year he drove for NTS Motorsports.

“The Chase format awards winning and being aggressive, so in our situation, we have to weigh risk verses reward and see what pays off more,” Hemric said. “We have to be aggressive, put ourselves in position to have a shot at the win, and if the opportunity is there, I’ll do everything I possibly can inside the truck to get it done.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Race: Citizen Soldier 400

Place: Dover International Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. ET

Tune-in: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (400 laps)

What to Watch For: Sunday marks the cutoff race for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Round of 16. Right now, Jamie McMurray (five points below Kyle Larson on the cutoff line), Austin Dillon (-5), Tony Stewart (-11) and Chris Buescher (-30) will all be eliminated from the Chase if they can’t improve their positions. … Kevin Harvick goes for his second straight win after visiting Victory Lane at New Hampshire. He is the defending fall Dover winner. … Spring Dover winner Matt Kenseth attempts the season track sweep this weekend. No driver has won twice at a single track this year. … Jimmie Johnson holds the Dover track record with 10 wins. Last season, he was knocked out of the Chase at the Monster Mile after he broke a rear axle seal on his car.


Race: Drive Sober 200

Place: Dover International Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. ET

Tune-in: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps)

What to Watch For: Chase favorite Erik Jones tries to get back into the top-eight drivers in the standings. He currently sits three points behind Blake Koch on the cutoff line after a late wreck at Kentucky relegated him to 28th. Jones won at Dover in the spring. … Darrell Wallace Jr. finished runner-up at Dover in the spring and hopes to get his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win. In four Dover starts, he’s registered two poles and an average finish of 10.5. … NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Race: DC Solar 350

Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)

What to Watch For: Every Chase driver except for William Byron competed in last year’s race at Las Vegas. The highest finishing Chaser was Timothy Peters (second), followed by Ben Kennedy (third), John Hunter Nemechek (fourth), Daniel Hemric (sixth), Matt Crafton (eighth) and Christopher Bell (14th). … Defending winner John Wes Townley tries to visit Victory Lane again on Saturday. … Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner and overall standings leader William Byron goes for his seventh win of the season.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.