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Podium Preview: DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover

Sunday's DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover isn't a Sunday smooth drive. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Sunday’s DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover isn’t a Sunday smooth drive. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Although the NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams pay only one visit to Dover Motor Speedway, it’s still as fun, tough and challenging to battle for a DuraMax Drydene 400 win.

Dover Motor Speedway remains a difficult 1-mile concrete oval that likens to a rollercoaster, especially with the dive from the frontstretch into the first turn. The laps go by in a hurry at this beloved venue and so does the depleting of the competition.

Unlike most tracks, Dover is a self cleaning track in which cars swept up in incidents roll down the banked straights and corners. While this may seem ideal to clear the track, it sometimes results in those grinding, big crashes like in 1995 off turn 4 or 2016 just before turn 1.

Hendrick Motorsports tends to dominate at Dover with last year’s race serving as their finest team moment at “The Monster Mile.” Given Alex Bowman’s victory over his teammates, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron, expect this quartet in the mix along with the likes of Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and the Trackhouse Racing Team duo of Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez.

This weekend, Ashley HobbsCody ShoppeJasmine SharpeKobe Lambeth, Luis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorNathan SolomonTaylor Kitchen and yours truly ponder about another Hendrick dominant day at Dover and a quartet of drivers needing a win in 2022.

Podium Preview: DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway
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Question 1
Alex Bowman is not sharing Napster secrets with Kyle Larson. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Alex Bowman is not sharing Napster secrets with Kyle Larson. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Last year, Alex Bowman led Hendrick Motorsports to a 1-2-3-4 finish at Dover. While repeating such a feat may be difficult, might we see this organization flex their muscles at The Monster Mile again?

Solomon : Absolutely. Hendrick Motorsports has always been dominant at Dover, going back to Jimmie Johnson and his 11 victories. I certainly don’t think they’ll finish 1-2-3-4 again, especially with the parity this season, but they should all run well. They’ve all had speed this season, so expect all four drivers to at least contend for the victory on Sunday. 

Tiongson : While I foresee Hendrick Motorsports having an excellent race at Dover, I think it’s going to be a callback to last year in terms of the most dominant racer in the NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Larson excels at “The Monster Mile” with finishes of third and a win in 2019 and a runner-up result last year.

Although Hendrick Motorsports thrives at Dover Motor Speedway, I don’t see a 1-2-3-4 finish. However, Larson will have some stellar competition from the likes of his teammate, William Byron.

The organization is finding the speed that helped them win 17 of 36 races last season and it helps that they’re learning more about the current Cup car. It’s probably a safe pick but Larson winning at Dover is a great way to gain points in the championship race with the real NASCAR battles and our TPF Cup Series fight.

Kitchen : Hendrick Motorsports has proven that they are still a dominant force in the 2022 season. Even with the Gen 7 car throwing the teams a curveball this year, HMS has managed to put three of their drivers in victory lane.

So, I have no doubt that HMS will flex their muscles at the track this weekend. However, with the lack of consistency from the organization this year compared to last year, I do not think it is possible for them to have another 1-2-3-4 finish. 

Lambeth : I’m not sure if we’ll see all four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets dominate the Monster Mile like last year, but I think they’ll certainly be in the mix contending for the win. It’s a good weekend for Chase Elliott to breakthrough with his first Cup victory of 2022. Despite being the only HMS driver yet to find victory lane, he’s leading the regular season points standings. While he hasn’t found the extra step to win, the consistency is there. It’s only a matter of time before the No. 9 Chevrolet takes the checkered flag and Dover Motor Speedway might be the place where it happens.

Sisoler : All four Hendrick cars? I don’t think so. I think any one or two of the four will have a chance to win, but I just don’t know if the HMS cars will be in contention for a 1-2-3-4 again, especially after William Byron has gone to the HMS backup/spare car. 

Shoppe : I have no doubt Hendrick motorsports will continue to be strong in Dover this weekend. What I’m interested in seeing is just how close the Hendrick backup car is that William Byron now has. In the old gen, a backup was no big deal. They were always about as good as the primary especially for a team like HMS. Now, with the parts shortages, and the new car, let’s see how close the 24 can get to his teammates up front.

Question 2
Can Joey Logano log a win in 2022? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Can Joey Logano log a win in 2022? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr., perennial title contenders, are among those without a win after the first 10 races. Which of these four drivers has the best chance to win at Dover?

Torres : At the moment, the best one who has a great shot of winning at Dover on this list is Martin Truex Jr. Although not having the dominant runs he’s had over the past several years, at least he’s been able to put up noble finishes. Same can be said about Chase Elliott, but I don’t quite see him beating Truex this Sunday at Dover.

Hobbs : Statistically speaking, it is Chase Elliott. Outside of 2018, Elliott has finished in the top-5 in every race at Dover (in the Spring). Martin Truex Jr. had a good string of top-10 finishes, until last year’s 12th place finish. Elliott (of these 4) has the best average finish this season, but Ryan Blaney has the best short track finish this season. But, at the end of the day, this is Elliott’s trophy to take home. 

Raynor : Martin Truex Jr. has the best chance to win at Dover. I know this is a new car and drivers are still learning how to drive it, but he’s been so good at this track and track like these. Chase Elliott has been good but has not had the finishes he needed. I just think Martin Truex Jr. has the advantage.

Sharpe : After watching practice and qualifying, I personally feel most confident in Ryan Blaney. Statistics make Chase Elliot a great contender, but his efforts this year seem to be lacking when compared to his other teammates.

Martin Truex Jr. is not the best when put under pressure, often cracking and becoming over focused on minuscule details. Joey qualified 22nd and is the only active championship winning driver who has not won at Dover. 

Did you think we held our breaths after two laps around Dover? You bet we did! Now, let’s rewind to last Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega with our race and points reports!
It was a somewhat languishing day for the team.

It was a somewhat languishing day for the team.

Then again, Solomon has a slender points lead.

Then again, Solomon has a slender points lead.

Next, Ashley Hobbs considers the statistics by Crunching the Numbers for Sunday’s DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover!
How does your favorite team fare at Dover? Behold.

How does your favorite team fare at Dover? Behold.

Past DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover winners have an average starting spot of 9.7, lead an average of 122.5 laps, start within the top five 44.44% of the time and start within the top 10 61.11% of the time since 2004.

Past DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover winners have an average starting spot of 9.7, lead an average of 122.5 laps, start within the top five 44.44% of the time and start within the top 10 61.11% of the time since 2004.

It's a time for Yung Money.

It’s a time for Yung Money.

Now, consider the trends in the past 10 races at Dover since 2012.

Now, consider the trends in the past 10 races at Dover since 2012.

Next, consider the trends at Dover in the past five races since 2017.Now, consider the trends in the past 10 races at Dover since 2017.

Next, consider the trends at Dover in the past five races since 2017.Now, consider the trends in the past 10 races at Dover since 2017.

The machine digs NAPA Auto Parts.

The machine digs NAPA Auto Parts.

Here’s the top 10 starters for Sunday’s DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover!
Row 1
Chris Buescher and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Sam Draiss and Jordan Anders-McClain | The Podium Finish)

Chris Buescher and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Sam Draiss and Jordan Anders-McClain | The Podium Finish)

Row 2
Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott (Photo: Sam Draiss and Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott (Photo: Sam Draiss and Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Lastly, here’s our picks for Sunday’s DuraMax Drydene 400 at Dover!
It's a fantastic five for Dover. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

It’s a fantastic five for Dover. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Tiongson : While I’ve got to be wise about my race picks with Kyle Larson from here on out, I like his chances to score his second win of 2022. With podiums in his past three starts, a driver with an average finish of 2.0 is someone I would not want to bet against.

Shoppe : Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team haven’t really dominated races this year like last. That will change today in Dover. Larson will conquer “The Monster Mile.”

Hobbs : William Byron has stepped up his game, especially his short track game. With two wins this year already, one of those at a short track, I look for Byron to keep his grove and possibly, just maybe, get himself a Miles the Monster trophy.

Torres : William Byron has a chip on his shoulder to have a strong Dover outing. While he’ll have a massive undertaking task of working his way towards the front, I still expect him to shine and ultimately tame the Monster Mile. That would make for a huge statement win on what’s already been a banner season for the veteran.

Solomon : Martin Truex Jr. is due for a win in 2022. His teammates, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, have found victory lane and he’s all destined to be next. Truex Jr. always has speed at Dover and knows how to manage the race on the old, concrete surface. Expect Truex Jr. to nab a win on Sunday.

Raynor : Truex has been great at Dover and will find victory lane.

Lambeth : People are still wondering if Trackhouse Racing can be legitimate playoff contenders deep in the season, even after Ross Chastain‘s pair of victories at COTA and Talladega. Both Trackhouse Chevrolets of Chastain and Daniel Suarez qualified in the top-10 at Dover so the speed is there. For the third time in 2022, look for Chastain to earn a win at Dover and silence the remaining critics.

Sharpe : This Team Trackhouse driver has been on a roll after winning last week’s race. Ross Chastain has proven he can take and handle a lot of pressure, something that is crucial at such a physically and mentally draining track.

Sisoler : Since I picked this guy at the start of the year, he has managed to get his team their first two wins ever, which means two watermelons have bit the dust, which immediately gives away my pick. He rolls off seventh on Sunday, and I’m taking the Melon Man, Ross Chastain, to tame the Monster Mile and make it three wins for himself and Trackhouse Racing in 2022, along with three watermelons smashed.

TPF Stats : He’s still looking for that elusive victory this season, but The Monster Mile is a place that was been kind to Chase Elliott.

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

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!

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. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $30 or more, use coupon code TPF2022 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

Rob Tiongson is a 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 his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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