FYI WIRZ: Taming NASCAR's Monster Takes 1 Fast Mile at a Time

Dwight DrumCorrespondent IIIMay 29, 2014

Jimmie Johnson during practice at Daytona International Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson during practice at Daytona International Speedway.Credit: Dwight Drum

Dover International Speedway (DIS) may not be one of NASCAR’s longest tracks, but the one-mile concrete oval with 24-degree banking is known as the “Monster Mile” because of the challenge it presents to competitors.

Drivers will feel the fast edge of DIS on June 1 when the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race begins. Some drivers have mentioned in the past that it’s like racing in a large white bowl.

In 2008, to emphasize the difficulty of the concrete track, Dover erected a 46-foot tall, 20-ton statue named Miles the Monster that grasps a stock car in his raised right hand. Miles looks like his many muscles are formed from bold concrete. The full-sized stock car looks helpless.

Perhaps that is a good prediction of what drivers experience at Dover. NASCAR fans may want to examine how some of their favorite drivers view their fast time on the concrete corners. 

Top NSCS drivers—Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards—shared their take on the Monster Mile before the green flag fell.

Gordon is the points leader and has a win to qualify him for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He is in position to charge and gamble for more wins and bonus points.

“I enjoy racing at Dover because of high speeds, high-banked corners and high-banked straightaways,” Gordon said. “You are constantly on the edge. You can find trouble quickly. The groove widens out and we can run low, middle or high. This place is tricky.”

Logano began his NASCAR career in the Nationwide Series at Dover six years ago at age 18 and returns now at 24 with the lead on the Chase chart. If NASCAR reset the points for Chase configuration right now, Logano would be on top with two wins and points.

“Dover is one of those tracks that I’ve taken a liking to over the years. I’ve really figured out what it takes to get a car around there,” Logano said. “I can then relate that back to my team and my crew chief and we can get the car dialed in just like I need it.”

Busch likes to drive on the edge, and Dover provides ample opportunity for that driving style.

“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging,” Busch said. “The way tires wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turn rather than down the straightaway.”

Earnhardt’s fans would love to see him add to his huge win at the Daytona 500.

“I learned that Jimmie is really hard to beat at Dover,” Earnhardt said. “I like racing there. We will just have to be really aggressive.”

Perhaps some mild-mannered dude smuggled all remaining Kryptonite out of the Charlotte area, because Johnson and the No. 48 team returned to prime winning form last week. The cape might be back at Dover. 

“I absolutely love Dover,” Johnson said. “It is one of my favorite tracks by far. We have run so well there in the past and it’s a great track for the No. 48 team and coming off of a win in Charlotte we will have some momentum.”

Kenseth is having a good year, with nine top-10 finishes, but he and the No. 20 team need to chase the skunk out of Victory Lane and finally grasp a trophy.

“All cars are going to be incredibly fast,” Kenseth said. “It’s going to be even harder to pass. Track position will be more important than ever. Keeping right-front tires from blowing is also important. Dover is my favorite track. I’m excited to get there.”

Edwards may have found a new team, but as he keeps that a secret, he may find ways to get another win.

“We will go to Dover and the speeds are going to be higher than ever there with this new package,” Edwards said. “Qualifying and restarts will be very important and it will be a tough race for the drivers physically, and for the crews and the engine builders.”

Fans without tickets to the Monster Mile can enjoy the action June 1 at 1 p.m. on Fox.

Joey logano on a practice run at Daytona International Speedway.
Joey logano on a practice run at Daytona International Speedway.Credit: Dwight Drum

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.