Two straight weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway have now come to an exciting finish as the entire Sprint Cup circuit heads to Dover International Speedway.
After earning his first win of the season in the Coca-Cola 600, Jimmie Johnson heads to yet another track he has dominated throughout his career. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have also experienced plenty of success, but Johnson has more wins than any current driver at The Monster Mile.
Other drivers outside of Hendrick have also blistered the track lately to earn victories. Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart have taken checkered flags in between JJ's two wins in the last four races and should be competitors in Delaware yet again.
Here is a look at the race information, latest team news and drivers to watch for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks Information
Site: Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware
Date: Sunday, June 1
Start Time: 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Latest Team News
Despite having three total wins and Kevin Harvick's success, the 2014 season has been a discouraging one for Stewart-Haas Racing.
While that sentence has likely been written more than once over the course of the year, it still holds true after the team's struggles in Charlotte. Along with several early-season engine issues for Harvick and others, both Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch bowed out of the Coke 600 after blown engines.
Prior to the engine failure, Patrick had a conversation after losing a cylinder, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Harvick and Busch both have wins on the season and are essentially into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But with the engine issues for the team and poor finishes throughout the season for many of the SHR drivers, the turnaround needs to start now if all four members plan to make the Chase.
If any team had a similar weekend to Hendrick Motorsports with a winner and another top-10 finish, it was Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt Kenseth was unable to notch his first win of the season but wound up third, and teammate Kyle Busch finished ninth.
Kenseth spoke about his great performance in the Coke 600, per Mike Hembree of USA Today:
I'm a little disappointed, but I feel like we're gaining on it. We're certainly not where we were at this time last year, leading a bunch of laps and being in contention to win. But we are gaining on it. We had a top-five car tonight and finished third with it.
We had great strategy and great pit stops and good adjustments, but we couldn't quite run with the 48 (Johnson) and the 4 (Harvick) and a couple of other cars. We've just got to get this a little better.
With teammates Denny Hamlin and Busch already earning wins on the season, Kenseth has still been more consistent than either driver. When he finally captures his first win—which might come in Dover—Kenseth will once again be a guaranteed championship contender this season.
Drivers To Watch
It's about time. After going winless through the early part of the season, Mr. Six-Time finally has a victory.
Let's just say this—expect several more in the near future. That starts with this weekend.
JJ heads to a number of tracks where he has experienced success, and none more so than The Monster Mile. Jeff Gluck of USA Today notes what could be coming in the near future for the Hendrick driver:
The Coke 600 was just one race. Johnson became the all-time Charlotte Motor Speedway winner with his seventh victory after a late caution changed the pit strategy and thwarted what seemed like a sure win for Carl Edwards. Johnson had a good car – the pole-sitter led 10 times for a race-high 164 laps – but circumstances helped secure the victory.
But now Johnson heads to Dover International Speedway, where he's won eight times, including last September. The following week, NASCAR will travel to Pocono Raceway – one of crew chief Chad Knaus' favorite racetracks.
Love him or hate him, Johnson is simply the best driver in NASCAR over the last decade. With 61 wins in 10 years, he has 30 more than his next closest competitor in Tony Stewart, per Gluck.
If Johnson isn't winning in Dover, he's finished in the top five during half of his starts at the track. Given his success over his career, expect JJ to be contending for a win by the end of the race and looking to notch his second straight.
Remember that guy we talked about who currently sits at second in wins over the last decade? Yeah, that guy might once again be ready to compete for wins heading to Delaware.
While he wasn't able to find his way into the top 10 at Charlotte, ultimately earning a 13th-place result, Stewart did return to some comfortable confines earlier this week. Stewart tweeted a photo of his return to testing in a sprint car:
That might not seem important at first, but when remembering that Stewart suffered his broken leg in a sprint car it becomes more noteworthy. If Stewart is comfortable enough to return to sprint cars, he might just be in a good place once again after suffering the injury last season.
It also helps Stewart's case that he had a win at Dover last June in the same race before the disastrous injury that finished his season. His win came in a race where Johnson led 143 laps and Kyle Busch tallied 150 laps at the top, so look for Stewart to be a late riser in the difficult race.
Who will win in Dover?
Just one week after a notable driver captured his first victory of his season, could another be in line for a win?
While Johnson is clearly the best racer at Dover among current NASCAR drivers, Kenseth might be the second best in Sprint Cup. During his 30 starts at Dover, Kenseth has tallied two wins and 19 top-10 results while averaging a 107.9 driver rating—behind only Johnson in that category.
None of those wins have come in a Toyota, but Kenseth is teeming with confidence after a strong finish in the Coke 600.
Jeff Gordon might have more wins, top fives and top 10s, but he also has 12 more starts at the track than Kenseth. After coming up just short in Charlotte, Kenseth might just have what it takes to overtake Johnson and earn his third victory at the track along with an assured spot in the Chase.
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