Dover Will Be A Unique Challenge For Next-Gen Car

DOVER, DELAWARE - MAY 15: The field races during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Drydene 200 race at Dover International Speedway on May 15, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The NASCAR Cup Series only heads to Dover Motor Speedway once this season, meaning the Next-Gen car will only face its last challenge on the high-banked mile oval one time. Sunday’s DuraMAX Drydene 400 (Sunday, May 1 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the 104th race at the track for the sport’s top level. 

After the Next-Gen car has taken on superspeedways, intermediate ovals, road courses, and a dirt track, but nothing’s like Dover. Kevin Harvick knows the challenge of the raised 24-degree banked corners at the track, since his three wins tie him for most of all active drivers.

Describing the track, Harvick said: “The concrete, itself, all the way around the racetrack, is unique. Dover is a racetrack where you can get away with being aggressive every single lap. You have to drive the car as hard as it will go every single lap, and that’s hard to do there because there are all the little bumps that come with the concrete, the change of elevation as you go in and off the corners, and all the banking in the corners. It’s a beast of a racetrack and you can get yourself in trouble really quick.”

Tying Harvick for wins are Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch. Nine drivers in the field already have a Dover win to their credit. No one’s quite as consistent as Harvick, though, who has ten top-five finishes, twenty-two top-tens, and only one DNF in all his starts at the track.

Busch said, “I always enjoy Dover. It’s a place you don’t want to be afraid of. You want to go out there and attack the place and give it everything you’ve got. It’s a really unique track.”

The uniqueness of the track presents huge unknowns for the teams throughout the grid, as setup experience is tossed out the window. Michael McDowell told the press that tire wear could also be an issue. 

McDowell said: “We don’t know yet.  That’s one of the big question marks.  This tire in general being wider and obviously with the wheels seems to cool a lot better than our previous car, so a lot of the wear issues and things have been different.  I wouldn’t say there has been less wear, it’s just been different – definitely less heat, but, like you said, Dover is concrete and pretty abrasive.”

Ross Chastain’s Talladega win last week last week was only the second repeat winner of the year, meaning teams can’t bet on making the Playoffs on points alone. And plenty of drivers still chasing their first win, like Kevin Harvick, have Dover circled on their calendars.

DOVER, DELAWARE – MAY 16: The Monster Mile statue is seen on the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Ty Gibbs Chases Noah Gragson in Xfinity Points

19-year-old Ty Gibbs is second in the Xfinity Series points standing coming into Saturday’s A-GAME 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but only by 5 points. His 339 points are behind points leader Noah Gragson’s total of 344. 

Gibbs has won thrice in the first nine races this season, while Gragson has two wins this year, making them the only two drivers with multiple wins. 

Dover will also play host to the final round of the Dash 4 Cash bonus, adding extra incentive for four drivers. Noah Gragson, Landon Cassill, AJ Allmendinger, and Ryan Seig will fight for the $100,000 bonus that Allmendinger won last week at Talladega. Gragson has the best average finish at Dover of the four drivers of 9.7, ahead of Allmendinger’s 12.5, Seig’s 14.6, and Cassill’s 21.2 average.

JR Motorsports will field Hendrick Cup Series driver in a fifth car, the number 88, in upcoming races. The car will debut in two weeks as the team contends for another win this week. 

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne
The Place: Dover Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 1
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,205,230
TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 120),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: A-GAME 200
The Place: Dover Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, April 30
The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,419,713
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

Owen Johnson