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Weekend Preview: Dover International Speedway


JOHNSON LOOKS TO DOVER FOR MUCH-NEEDED CUP VICTORY

Jimmie Johnson gets a double shot this weekend-a double shot at securing a berth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff at his best race track.

Johnson has won 11 times in 36 starts at Dover International Speedway-a remarkable winning percentage of 30.6. With the Monster Mile hosting a Cup doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday, the seven-time series champion will have two opportunities to muscle his way into the postseason.

The first race in the doubleheader is the Drydene 311 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The second leg of the doubleheader follows on Sunday at 4 p.m., to be carried by the same broadcast partners.

Dover is the track that gave Johnson his last Cup victory on June 4, 2017. Since then, through two crew chief changes, Johnson has competed in 117 races without taking the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to Victory Lane.

"We’re very excited for this weekend at Dover," said Johnson, who is 15th in the Cup standings, 25 points below the Playoff cut line after Sunday’s fourth-place finish at the Daytona Road Course. "It’s hands-down my favorite track…

"Performance-wise, last weekend at the Daytona Road Course, we had a solid day. We needed that. Because of our fourth-place finish, we’ll be starting sixth Saturday at Dover, which is really an advantage to where we have been starting lately.

"With the random draw and the way track position has been working out, I feel like we have had things stacked against us for a while. This will be a good advantage for us, and we just have to go out there and get it done."

The driver immediately ahead of Johnson in the race for a Playoff spot is his own teammate, William Byron. In four starts at the Monster Mile, Byron has a best finish of eighth in last year’s spring race. That’s the only Dover event in which he has finished on the lead lap.

"Even though it’s concrete, Dover’s surface changes a lot during the race," Byron said of the high-banked, high-speed one-mile track. "It’s really temperamental and holds a lot of rubber. When it does that, it widens the race track out.

"It’s a tough track to get ahold of for that reason. You have to prepare for when the rubber lays down and have your car handling how it needs to once that happens. You have to stay on top of those things. I feel like our guys have done a good job in preparing, and we’ll see what we have when we unload."

Since Johnson’s last win at Dover, five different drivers have won the five most recent races there: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Of that quintet, Busch is in the direst need of a victory to counteract the cascade of ill fortune that has beset the defense of his championship.

Busch is winless this year, and his drought has reached 23 races, the most to start a season since his rookie year in 2005, when Busch won at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in his 25th start.

CINDRIC HEADS TO DOVER ON A REMARKABLE ROLL

The last time the NASCAR Xfinity Series had a weekend doubleheader, Austin Cindric won his first race on a NASCAR oval at Kentucky and repeated the feat the following day.

Since then, Cindric has won three times in four races and finished second to Brandon Jones in the one race he didn’t win. With last Saturday’s victory at the Daytona Road Course, Cindric record his fifth triumph of the season, pulling even with close friend and fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe for the series lead.

With the Xfinity tour heading for Dover International Speedway for a doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday, Cindric will get the opportunity for another sweep. Saturday’s Drydene 200 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Sunday’s event starts at 1 p.m., to be carried by the same broadcast partners.

While on his current roll, Cindric has taken the top spot in the standings from Briscoe, who is eager to get to Dover and try to reclaim bragging rights.

"I’m super excited to get to Dover," Briscoe said. "It’s one of my favorite race tracks. We always get to go there twice, but usually it’s so far apart in the season we’re sitting there waiting to go back. It’s nice to have races back-to-back now and run two days in a row. Hopefully, we hit the setup on our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang good the first day to where it carries over into the second day.

"I really enjoy these doubleheaders, because if you have a bad first day or even a good first day, you can go back and try again, or back up what you did in that first race. We have a good opportunity to capitalize on this being one of my better tracks."

Cindric, however, will have a leg up at the start. The No. 22 Team Penske Ford is on the pole. Briscoe’s No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Mustang will start 10th.

Interestingly, there is only one former winner in the field for Saturday’s first leg of the Xfinity doubleheader-veteran Justin Allgaier, who took the checkered flag in the spring race of 2018.

SAUTER HOPES HISTORY REPEATS AT MONSTER MILE

As a driver who desperately needs a victory to secure a spot in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs, Johnny Sauter couldn’t be racing on a better track.

Sauter has won the last three events at Dover International Speedway. A fourth straight victory would lock the driver of the No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford into the Playoffs, which Sauter is in dire peril of missing if he can’t turn his season around in the next three events.

With DNFs at Texas and Kansas and a disqualification at Atlanta, Sauter is 14th in the Truck Series standings, 67 points behind Todd Gilliland in 10th, the last Playoff-eligible position. A victory, however, would vault Sauter into the Playoffs.

In 11 starts at the Monster Mile, Sauter has posted eight top 10s, seven of those coming consecutively and culminating with his current three-race winning streak.

Friday’s KDI Office Technologies 200 (5 p.m. ET Friday on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the second event in the Triple Truck Challenge. Sheldon Creed claimed a $50,000 bonus with his win in last weekend’s race at the Daytona Road Course. A second victory in the Triple Truck Challenge would earn Creed an extra $50,000 bonus, for a total of $150,000.

Should he win all three races in the program, Creed could collect an additional $300,000 bonus for a total of $500,000.

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Drydene 311 (1)
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 22
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 311 miles (311 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 311)

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Drydene 311 (2)
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 23
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 311 miles (311 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 311)

What To Watch For: Dover International Speedway has hosted 100 NASCAR Cup Series races, dating back to the inaugural event on July 6, 1969 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (Ford). … The 100 NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway have produced 42 different pole winners and 37 different race winners. … NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in poles at Dover with six (1969, 1973 sweep, 1974, 1975, 1981). Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (2012, 2013, 2015, 2019) lead all active series drivers in poles at Dover with four each. … Hendrick Motorsport’s Jimmie Johnson leads the series in wins at Dover with 11 victories (2002 sweep, 2005 Playoffs, 2009 sweep, 2010 Playoffs, Spring of 2012, 2013 Playoffs, Spring of 2014, Spring of 2015 and Spring of 2017). … There are nine former Cup Dover winners entered this weekend – Johnson (11 wins), Kyle Busch (three), Martin Truex Jr. (three), Matt Kenseth (three), Ryan Newman (two), Kevin Harvick (two), Brad Keselowski (one), Chase Elliott (one) and Kurt Busch (one). Truex is the most recent winner entered this weekend, taking the checkered flag at Dover in last year’s May race. … 12 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Dover International Speedway, including three consecutive by David Pearson (fall 1972 and 1973 sweep), Rusty Wallace (fall 1993 and 1994 sweep) and Jeff Gordon (fall 1995 and 1996 sweep). … Youngest Dover Cup race winner is Chase Elliott (October 7, 2018) at the age 22 years, 10 months, 0 days, and the oldest Dover Cup race winner is Harry Gant (May 31, 1992) at the age 52 years, 4 months, 21 days. … 13 of the 100 (13%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover have been won from the pole position; the two most recent were by Jimmie Johnson in 2009 and 2010. … The second place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (19) than any other starting position at Dover International Speedway – the most recent was Kyle Larson (Oct. 2019). … The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Dover is 37th, by Kyle Petty in the spring of 1995. The deepest in the field that an active Cup race winner has started at Dover is 26th, by Martin Truex Jr. in the spring of 2007.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Drydene 200 (1)
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 22
The Time: 12 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Drydene 200 (2)
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 23
The Time: 12 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

What To Watch For: The NASCAR Xfinity Series has competed at Dover International Speedway 72-times, dating back to the inaugural race on May 15, 1982 – won by Joe Ruttman driving for Butch Mock (Pontiac). … The 72 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Dover International Speedway have produced 48 different pole winners and 49 different race winners. … Harry Gant and Joey Logano lead the series in poles at Dover with five each. … 16 different drivers have won multiple times at Dover in the Xfinity Series, led by Kyle Busch with five victories (2008, 2010 sweep, 2014 sweep). … There is only one former series Dover winner entered this weekend – Justin Allgaier (May 2018). … 10 different drivers have won consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Dover, led by Joey Logano who won four straight from 2012-2013. … Casey Atwood is the youngest Xfinity race winner at Dover (09/25/1999) at the age of 18 years, 11 months, 21 days, and the oldest Xfinity race winner at Dover is Dick Trickle (06/05/1999) at the age 57 years, 7 months, 9 days. … Eight of the 72 Xfinity races at Dover have been won from the pole or first starting position (11.1%); the most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kyle Larson (2017). The second starting position is the most proficient starting position on the grid producing more winners (11) than any other starting position (15.2%). … The deepest that an Xfinity Series race winner has started at Dover was 36th by Jeff Burton driving for Richard Childress Racing in 2006. … Dover International Speedway will become the third track in series history to host a doubleheader weekend with series races on consecutive days; joining Homestead-Miami Speedway (06/13-14/2020) and Kentucky Speedway (07/09-10/2020).

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: KDI Office Technology 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Friday, August 21
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 4:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

What To Watch For: Dover International Speedway has hosted 20 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races, dating back to the inaugural event on September 22, 2000 – the race was won by Kurt Busch driving for Roush Fenway Racing (Ford). … The 20 Gander Truck races at Dover have produced 16 different pole winners and 15 different race winners. … Mike Skinner leads the series in poles at Dover with two (2007, 2008). … Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Dover with four victories (2005, 2011, 2013, 2014). … ThorSport Racing’s Johnny Sauter is the only other driver with multiple series wins (three) at Dover (2017, 2018, 2019). … The youngest Gander Trucks winner at Dover is Tyler Reddick (05/31/2013) at the age of 19 years, 7 months, 23 days, and the oldest series Dover winner is NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (06/01/2007) at the age of 48 years, 11 months, 12 days. … Three times the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Dover has been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kyle Busch in 2014. … The deepest in the field a Gander Trucks winner at Dover has started is 15th by NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr in 2007.

— NASCAR Wire Service —