The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Dover International Speedway on Sunday for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks. Jimmie Johnson has won the season's first race at Dover twice over the past three years and four times overall.
Johnson currently sits fifth in the standings despite a series-high three wins through 12 races. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hold the top four spots in points at the one-third mark of the 2015 campaign.
Let's check out all of the important information for Sunday's race. That's followed by a look at the qualifying results and a preview of the Sprint Cup action.
Where: Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware
When: Sunday, May 31, at 1 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|2015 FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks Lineup|
|2||78||Martin Truex Jr.|
|9||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|16||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|28||9||Sam Hornish Jr.|
After an extended stay at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 over the past couple of weeks, drivers now move on to the test known as the Monster Mile.
As mentioned, Johnson is a four-time winner in the spring visit to Dover. One more triumph would tie him with Bobby Allison for the most in the race's history. Add the fall stop to the equation, and the No. 48 driver has nine victories in 26 starts at the track.
David Scott of the Charlotte Observer passed along comments from the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion about how much he enjoys running at Dover:
The set of corners from straightaway to straightaway, you kind of work up your bravery, you make it through the corner, you get on the next straightaway, you smile, like, 'Wow, that was pretty cool, I'm going to do it again, here we go.' And you fly through (Turns) 3 and 4 and you just end up with that mindset around the racetrack. It's a ton of fun.
Johnson clearly has an outstanding feel for how to get the most out of his car at the track. He'll have some ground to make up this time around, however, as he'll start 14th.
While no other active driver can match Johnson's Dover resume, Harvick has been the one setting the pace all season after capturing his first Sprint Cup title last season.
The reigning champion has finished inside the top 10 in 11 of 12 races. His past performance at the Monster Mile isn't nearly as strong, though. He's ended up in the top five just three times in 28 races and never captured the checkered flag.
Patrick Perrin of Fox Sports notes Harvick is entering a difficult stretch of tracks:
Then there's Truex. He's matched Harvick with 11 top-10 finishes in 12 races, but he hasn't been able to turn those constant trips into contention into a victory. Finally getting over that hump could go a long way in making him a true championship threat.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. praised the veteran's rebound season so far after Truex struggle in 2014:
NASCAR Stats illustrated how close he's come recently, but he just hasn't been able to close the deal to end up in Victory Lane:
Truex has another fast car this week. He'll start on the front row with Denny Hamlin after finishing second in qualifying. And running near the front as common as he has this season typically translates into at least one win eventually.
Ultimately, this should be a highly competitive race with several drivers having a chance to come out on top during the final laps. There hasn't been one completely dominant car this week, so perhaps the luck will finally fall in favor of the No. 78 team.
Prediction: Martin Truex Jr.