Last weekend’s race in New Hampshire, the first race of the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, was one of the best races in NH memory. Juan Pablo Montoya showed that his making the Chase was no fluke by dominating the day, only to be school by the Cup Series senior member, Mark Martin.
Dover, Del and the Monster Mile play host to Chase race No. 2 this weekend. Dover isn’t known as the Monster Mile for nothing and can play a big role in determining the 2009 champion. The track will chew you up and spit you out faster than you can blink and will no doubt be looking for more cars to snack on this Sunday.
Our Creatures are back at it this weekend after only one of them correctly picked Mark Martin to win last weekend, which put Martin atop the standings and shook our Creature standings up as well. It’s all about earning as many points as you can over the next nine weeks, although wins aren’t unwelcome.
Here’s whom our Creatures believe can conquer the Monster Mile this weekend to give them the maximum points toward their championship hopes.
Ben Bomberger: Ryan Newman
I went out on a limb last week and correctly picked Mark "The Kid" Martin to bring home the checkered flag at a track he had never won on. So why not try it again? Sure, this week's pick of Ryan "The Rocketman" Newman is not that far out there, but I'm hoping he can either give me a win or a solid finish in Dover on Sunday.
Newman has been solid at the track in the past with three wins, six top-fives, nine top-10s (60%), four poles and an average finish of 10.3 in his 15 starts. Newman's average finish at the track is 10.3 and his average running position of 8.8 is third best.
Although his last win at the track came in 2004, Newman finished eighth in Dover earlier this season. I wouldn't mind saying "Hello Newman" on Saturday as the No. 39 car rolls into Victory Lane!
James Broomhead: Carl Edwards
Roush have had a bit of rough year, but looking at the stats if it's going to turn around anywhere it should Dover. And if any driver is going to turn it round, it's Carl Edwards.
Mary Jo Buchanan: Ryan Newman
Newman has four poles and three wins there and will be motivated to get his Chase going in the right direction. Or maybe it's just that Ryan reminds of that Monster Mile Monument.
Kelly Crandall: Tony Stewart
The regular season champion needs to turn things around after five straight weeks of finishes outside the top ten. Things were going very well last weekend in New Hampshire, qualifying second and leading laps, before someone didn’t do their job and left an axle cap loose.
That ended their day in 14th place and continued their bad luck. But now he heads back to a track that he has done very well in the past, and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in June after a late race duel.
In 20 races Stewart has two wins, 13 top tens, has led 1,072 laps to compile an 11.67 average finish. Stewart should be able to muscle his way around the Monster Mile on Sunday for a solid points day.
Mason Dunn: Denny Hamlin
Hamlin is on fire of late with six top tens in the last six races, including the emotional win at his home track of Richmond. With that kind of momentum on his side as well as two consecutive Nationwide series victories at Dover (Fall 2007 and Spring 2008), Hamlin will look to improve upon his average finish of 25.6 and cement himself as a serious contender for the 2009 Sprint Cup title.
Adam Heasley: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Danielle Henderson: NO PICK SENT
No pick sent.
Kara Martin: Ryan Newman
No long well thought out comment this week as to why I chose my driver, it's all about the stats! With three wins, four poles and nine top 10 finishes; Newman is my man to take the checked flag in Dover!
SM Napier: Greg Biffle
Going with the Bif. In 14 races he has two wins, six top fives, nine top 10 finishes, one pole, and has led 463 laps. Plus, I have to save my top two choices for other tracks.
David Phillips: Kyle Busch
After not making the cut for the Chase in 2009, Kyle will be out to show everyone how good he really is!
Jen Preston: Ryan Newman
Newman is sitting quietly in seventh in points after his top ten in Loudon, and it's time for his first win since joining Stewart Haas Racing. He hasn't won at Dover since 2007, but he does have three wins, six top fives and nine top tens. With his run this weekend, look for the Rocket Man to return to his winning ways.
Rob Tiongson: Jimmie Johnson
He was able to outdrive and out power Tony Stewart in the final laps of the June race at Dover. While Johnson has been a bit quiet since his win at Indy, I believe he'll make his first strike for the first of many Chase victories of 2009, starting at the Monster Mile on Sunday.
After Chase race No.1 here’s a look once again on how the Creatures stack up heading into Dover.
Ben Bomberger (5,210) Mark Martin won (3).
Danielle Henderson (-25) Jimmie Johnson finished fourth (2).
Mary Jo Buchanan (-35) Juan Pablo Montoya finished third (0).
David Phillips (-39) Ryan Newman finished seventh (2).
Kara Martin (-42) Greg Biffle finished ninth (3).
Rob Tiongson (-45) Kurt Busch finished sixth (1).
Jen Preston (-45) Kurt Busch finished sixth (1).
James Broomhead (-46) Clint Bowyer finished 10th (3).
Kelly Crandall (-72) Jeff Gordon finished 15th (2).
Mason Dunn (-72) Greg Biffle finished ninth (0).
Adam Heasley (-180) No Pick Sent (3).
SM Napier (-190) No Pick Sent (2).
Mark Martin will be heading to Dover looking for his first win there since 1999 and attempting to make it two in row in the Chase. Second place in points, Jimmie Johnson, is looking to sweep the Dover races for 2009 after beating Tony Stewart in June.
And something to keep an eye on: the winner of the fall Dover races from the past ten years has not gone on to win the championship that same year.