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It was kind of a rocky start for some when the first practice started at the Monster Mile, shutting it down for an extended period and affecting, in particular, Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray and then… It rained. The rain washed out the qualifying session and the lineup will come from that first practice. For some, that was good but for others, well… maybe not so good.
Of immediate concern to all was Tony Stewart and his well being after his hard impact with the wall when Danica’s car dumped a bunch of rear end lube. He immediately told his crew on the radio that it hurt and he did exit the car slowly but, to everyone’s relief, walked to the ambulance on his own. He did manage to get back on the track with a backup car and made about three laps with it under speed.
Before I say too much about this weekend’s race, I just have to make a few comments about last weekend at Kansas. It seems if it weren’t for bad luck, Martin Truex Jr. would have no luck at all. He definitely had the field covered at Kansas and, had it not been for an unusual happening on his last pit stop, this fan thinks – along with many others – he would have ended up in Victory Lane.
As it turned out, Kyle Bush did end up there and walked away with his third victory of the 2016 season. As mentioned in last week’s article/podcast, the Joe Gibbs Toyotas looked very strong and had it not been for the strange happening with Truex Jr’s wheel problem and Denny Hamlin’s poor judgment trying to pass in the middle of a three-wide situation, all of the Gibb’s Toyotas would have finished quite well. Of course, Kyle Bush’s car did fail post race inspection and I’ll talk more about that later…
(I’ll be back in a minute after a word about today’s sponsor…)
The Monster at Dover does make life interesting for the drivers and the fans. With its 24 degree banking on the turns and 9 degree banking on the front and rear straights, the speeds are high and the action is generally fast on this 1 mile oval. When things go wrong, they usually happen in a hurry, too. Just as a quick review of Danica’s blowing a rear end gear, her car dumped a lot of rear end lube on the track. Following behind her were her teammate, Tony Stewart and fellow competitor, Jamie McMurray. Neither of them had time to miss the oil on the track or avoid hitting the wall and they were probably running around 150 mph when they got into the oil. In the same way, the Monster can attack anyone at anytime during the race on Sunday afternoon; no one is considered to be exempt from the perils at the Dover track.
Once again the JGR Toyotas showed up as they have most every weekend this season. They are definitely rolling and it wouldn’t surprise this fan at all to see one of them winning the Autism 400. I can’t discount the Stewart/Haas Chevys of Kevin Harvick or Kurt Bush though. Both looked fairly strong in the practices and both generally run good at Dover. The problem as this fan sees it is that the JGR Toyotas, in particular, haven’t really shown much weakness in any area so far. As the races have progressed most weekends, one or more of them have generally been in the mix for taking the win in these first ten or so races and, from this fan’s view, this weekend doesn’t look to be much different. The Stewart/Haas teams of Harvick and Bush, along with the Hendrick Chevys just might have something to say about it this weekend but I just don’t know if they’ve caught up to JGR yet.
Even though Kyle Bush won last weekend, he didn’t come away from the weekend unscathed. In post-race inspection it was discovered that not all of the lug nuts were on tight. With NASCAR’s newest ruling about the number of lug nuts and how well they are tightened, Kyle lost his crew chief and front tire changer at least for this weekend. From this fan’s view, I just don’t see that affecting his ability to win all that much. JGR has depth overall in the pits and elsewhere across the organization so I just don’t see where it will make a whole lot of difference. What will make an impact, at least in this fan’s opinion, is whether any of the other teams are beginning to catch up to the competitive level the JGR teams have displayed overall this season.
When it comes down to the racing, don’t look for it to be a ho-hum race without drama or excitement. As I mentioned earlier, the Monster Mile at Dover is no easy beast to tame and it remains to be seen who will be the one to do so in the Autism 400 Sunday afternoon.
Jimmie Johnson has a lot of wins at this track and he could be the one to tame it or it could be his teammate, Dale Jr. Both of them are looking for a victory and Dale Jr. probably desires it more than Jimmie and that isn’t taking anything away from JJ’s desire to add another victory to his stats for this season. I’m definitely not ruling Brad Keselowski out either and he generally runs pretty well at the Monster Mile along with teammate Joey Logano. The problem I have with picking an actual winner this weekend is that there are so many possibilities to choose from. Instead I’m going to go with saying I don’t think it will be someone that doesn’t deserve it…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 14, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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