Podium Preview: Gander RV 400 at Dover

William Byron seeks his first Cup win in today's Gander RV 400 at Dover. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

William Byron seeks his first Cup win in today’s Gander RV 400 at Dover. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

By all means, today’s Gander RV 400 at Dover isn’t just Round 11 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.  Rather, it’s a 400 lap, 400 mile test around this concrete beast based in “The First State.”

As drivers traverse around this 50-year-old venue in record speeds, pit crews will need to bring their A game with each stop.  One critical mistake could mean an early visit with Miles the Monster.  Then again, keeping one’s nose clean all race long might mean standing as tall as the beast himself.

Today, our columnists, Amanda ShoopmanAshley HobbsChristina BowmanCody ShoppeJose Acero JrKathleen CassidyKatie CoopleKobe LambethMatt Sisoler, Stephen Conley, and yours truly consider the importance of Chevrolet’s first win of 2019 and the timing of the last caution for last Sunday’s race at Talladega!

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Question 1
All things considered, did Chase Elliott's win catalyze Chevrolet's efforts in 2019? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

All things considered, did Chase Elliott’s win catalyze Chevrolet’s efforts in 2019? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Chase Elliott scored Chevrolet’s first win of 2019 at Talladega last Sunday.  How pivotal was this for Chevrolet to finally win, ironically following Elliott’s win at Kansas last fall?

Acero :  Elliot’s win at ‘Dega comes in at a great moment both for HMS and all the Chevy camps. Knowing the dominance that Johnson has this upcoming race, interesting to see if in fact HMS has their camp up to par or if Elliot’s win was just a fluke.

Copple :  I think this was a pivotal moment for Elliott, Chevrolet and also, Hendrick Motorsports. Chevy and HMS have been in a slump lately and having a win under their belts will hopefully do a lot for the programs. But then again, this was Talladega, where anyone can get to Victory Lane. I hope they take this victory and the momentum following to make some real progress in the coming weeks.

Lambeth :  I believe that last Sunday’s victory at Talladega was a very important one for Chevrolet. It seems like Ford and Toyota have been a step ahead of them throughout the season. Luck and the great equalizer of the draft plays a major role in the outcome of superspeedway races. While Chevrolet was able to end a slump, thanks to Chase Elliott, the real thing to pay attention to is how the Bowtie performs at tracks not named Daytona or Talladega, in the next few months.

Shoopman : At a race as unpredictable as Talladega, I do not believe that this win was a pivotal one for Chevrolet. I think that we definitely should keep an eye on them in the upcoming races to see if they continue the strong performance they brought to ‘Dega. However, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis into a singular race.

Tiongson :  It was somewhat critical in that we finally saw the Chevrolet teams work together as a cohesive unit.  However, this was a superspeedway track where the draft was a factor, so teamwork’s indelible. I’d like to see more consistency from the Chevrolet teams at a place like Dover, where they’ll race with maximum horsepower. Also, they’ll need good runs at Kansas and Charlotte, where they’ll run somewhat slower but aerodynamics and handling come into play.

Question 2
Did NASCAR make the right call with the last second caution at Talladega? (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Did NASCAR make the right call with the last second caution at Talladega? (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Before the caution ended the race at Talladega on lap 188, a few incidents took place. Namely, Ricky Stenhouse Jr wrecked on the frontstretch.  Also, there was the multi-car wreck on the backstretch.
Was NASCAR correct to wait on throwing the caution until the backstretch crash?  Or should they’ve ended the race following Stenhouse Jr’s accident?

Bowman :  Since Stenhouse was able to get out of the racing line I don’t see any reason that NASCAR should have thrown the caution for his wreck. They are always going to be criticized, regardless of their decision. However, in this case I believe they made the right call.

Cassidy :  NASCAR made the right call. The team has been paying closer attention to throwing cautions when it could end a race – and it shows to viewers! In this case, Ricky Stenhouse Jr was off the racing groove and that is why it made sense not to throw the flag!

Conley :  I firmly believe that they went against everything they’ve ever said when it comes to a crash, especially at Talladega and Daytona. Stenhouse may have been out of the racing line, but that was a severe impact and an abrupt angle.

NASCAR has always said they need to get medics on scene quickly. At a track that big, it’s still another minute before they can clear and safely allow service workers to get to a car. They were in a no win situation because fans would have lost their minds over losing the final lap.

If he could roll away, different story. We’ve seen cars upside down coming to the line. Just because he was off track, doesn’t mean it was out of harm’s way. Next time there is a crash like this and the yellow is thrown for the exact reason I mention, good look avoiding the backlash.

Hobbs :  NASCAR has been trying to be better about ending races under green. In doing so, they take a closer look at wrecks at the end of the race. In this case, because Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car was out of the racing groove, NASCAR made the correct decision to hold off and let the field race.

Yes, Talladega is unpredictable and every inch of the track could be a “racing groove.” But, with the size of the track, it made sense to wait. However, on a shorter track, that decision could be different.

Lucas :  NASCAR made the right call. I personally wanted them to keep racing to the finish line, but when Larson’s car became airborne, it was understandable as why they had to throw it. Stenhouse was able to continue onward and move away from the racing line.

Shoppe :  This was the right call for sure! Stenhouse’s car was out of the way like many have said. I am happy that they made this call to give fans an opportunity to see a green finish. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way due to the bigger crash seconds later on the backstretch that absolutely needed to cause a yellow so safety crews could attend to Larson and others. I do not think NASCAR should have a boiler plate rule on when to end races under yellow for accidents after the white flag because each situation is different.

Sisoler :  NASCAR was fully in the right. They have been angling to finish races under green flag conditions as much as they physically can, so they let them race back with Stenhouse’s car out of the racing groove, and I believe, beyond the start-finish line.

Personally, I would’ve preferred them to race back to the line even after the crash on the backstretch, seeing as it would’ve been an insane race back to the stripe and, logically, the cars would’ve had a fully turn to slow down after crossing the stripe before getting back to where Larson and company came to rest, but I do understand the caution shown by the officials to call the race.

With this in mind, we’ve made two incredibly quick laps around Dover!  Now, let’s rewind to last Sunday’s race at Talladega with our race and points reports!
A trio of panelists benefited with Joey Logano last Sunday!

A trio of panelists benefited with Joey Logano last Sunday!

Meanwhile, the TPF Cup points race shuffles even more so for the Gander RV 400!

Meanwhile, the TPF Cup points race shuffles even more so for the Gander RV 400!

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Podium Preview if Ashley Hobbs doesn’t educate us on statistics.  On that note, let’s be like her or Larry Mac! We’ll review the stats and trends as we’re Crunching the Numbers, Gander RV 400 style!
Clearly, Hendrick Motorsports loves Dover.

Clearly, Hendrick Motorsports loves Dover.

Interestingly, the race winner's average starting spot is 10.1 and they've led an average of 118.5 laps.

Interestingly, the race winner’s average starting spot is 10.1 and they’ve led an average of 118.5 laps.

Not surprisingly, Johnson reigns supreme at Dover.

Not surprisingly, Johnson reigns supreme at Dover.

Presently, here's the race trends at Dover since 2004.

Presently, here’s the race trends at Dover since 2004.

The trends at Dover in the past 10 races yield interesting stats.

The trends at Dover in the past 10 races yield interesting stats.

Lastly, here's the trends at Dover in the past five races.

Lastly, here’s the trends at Dover in the past five races.

Might TPF Stats finally believe in the Bowtie Brigade?

Might TPF Stats finally believe in the Bowtie Brigade?

Now, let’s reveal our picks!  Find out which one of us will be saying, “All I do is win, win, win, no matter what” for the Gander RV 400 at Dover!
Might one of these magnificent seven win at Dover?

Might one of these magnificent seven win at Dover?

Acero :  Momentum on his side, Chase Elliott tames the monster!

Hobbs :  With an average finish of 6.67 in the Gander RV 400, and having momentum, Chase Elliott goes for back to back victories.

Sisoler :  Dover is always insane. There’s no question that anything can happen here, but it seems to favor drivers who can run at the front and dodge the chaos. I thought about going with Chase Elliott last weekend and decided to play the odds and go with Aric Almirola.

Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson, so I’m going with the odds again. Chase nabs his second straight win of 2019, not to mention his second straight win at the Monster Mile!

TPF Stats : Believe it or not, Kyle Busch is not the favorite; he’s second. This weekend, the numbers favor, albeit slightly, Chase Elliott.

Tiongson :  I’m quite surprised that this man has yet to be picked for Dover.  I’m going with Kevin Harvick because he can’t surely continue on his “slump” much longer, right?

Lambeth :  Kevin Harvick will tame the Monster Mile.

Shoopman :  I’m going to go with Kevin Harvick for this one.

Bowman :  Joey Logano.

Cassidy :  William Byron.

Conley :  A monster mash ain’t a party without candy. Kyle Busch serves it up in Dover

Copple :  Dover is Jimmie Johnson’s place. And while he and the 48 team haven’t had a lot of success as of late, Dover would be the perfect place for them to turn things around.

Lucas :  Probably won’t win this race, but he’s been quietly consistent with points, Chris Buescher for hopefully the win!

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Gander RV 400!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races in 2019.  

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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