With the exciting and controversial first round of the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup at Loudon in the books, the season's 12 best drivers shift their focus to Dover International Speedway—a track known for surprising finishes and the unexpected.
Dover is a track unlike any other on the Sprint Cup circuit. It is high banked and one mile in length. It's 24 degrees of banking in the corners and nine degrees of banking on the straights make it a self-cleaning track where all cars involved in a wreck find themselves at the bottom against the inside retaining walls.
Like a short track, Dover is known for its massive pileups that have been known to take many cars out of contention at one time.
Tony Stewart's fuel gamble last week further cemented the fact that a win is a necessity for a driver if they are to win the championship, and one can expect to see the aggressive driving of last week play a key role in Sunday's AAA 400.
Seven of the 12 drivers competing in the chase have won at Dover during their career and hoisted Miles the Monster—one of the most unique trophies in NASCAR.
Roush-Fenway drivers hold three of the five best driver averages at Dover since 2008 and have a great chance of putting their Fords in victory lane for only the second time in 2010.
Leading the Roush-Fenway charge is Matt Kenseth, who has the best stats of any chase driver at Dover—the track that he claims is his favorite. Kenseth has an average finish of 3.20 at Dover, which is the best average of all drivers in Sprint Cup at the track since 2008.
With a best finish of second and worst of fourth, Matt Kenseth is an excellent dark horse pick to win on Sunday.
Greg Biffle has the second best average finish of 5.20 at Dover since 2008. During that time span, Biffle has finished no worse than 13th. Coupled along with one win at Dover during the track's chase race in 2008, Greg has three top-fives, four top-10s and one top-20 finish. By looking at these numbers, Greg Biffle's best chance of getting an all-important win during the Chase may be on Sunday.
Holding the fourth-best average finish (6.20) at Dover since 2008 is Carl Edwards, who hasn't won a race at the track during that timespan, does have two top-fives, four top-10s and a worst finish of 11th.
No driver scored more points leading into the chase than Carl and his recent ride of momentum may finally pay off Sunday with a win.
The most dominant driver at Dover however, is Jimmie Johnson, who leads all Chase drivers with five career wins at the track and swept both it's Sprint Cup dates in 2002 and 2009.
Since 2008, Johnson has an average finish of sixth through five races with three top-fives, four top-10s, and a worst finish of 16th—which came in May after a pit road speeding penalty.
Without a doubt, he will be a force to reckon with on Sunday and few will be surprised if he and team 48 are the ones in victory lane celebrating at the end of the day.
This year's May race at Dover was won by Kyle Busch, who has the second most wins among chasers on Dover's high banks since 2008.
The track has been feast of famine for Busch who was won here twice, but when not winning, has finishes of 43rd, 23rd, and 31st. If Kyle and crew chief Dave Rogers keep up with the car, Busch could be an excellent dark horse pick.
Points leader Denny Hamlin has the worst average finish among all chasers at Dover since 2008—with 28.6. During that time-span, Denny has only one top-ten finish, which was a fourth place run during the track's May race this year. Before this season, Denny finished no better than 22nd.
There is a good chance that Denny may lose his points lead after Sunday's race if he doesn't have a strong run.
Regardless of these numbers and past performances, this is no indication that there may be an unexpected winner in a non-chase drivers. We do know that Sunday's race will be exciting and aggressive and may be Roush-Fenway's best chance of getting one of their three chasers an all-important win during the chase.
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