Five things to watch in Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover


DOVER, Del. – Martin Truex Jr. issued a warning last week after leading the most laps in the Coca-Cola 600 but finishing fifth when the top four cars gambled on fuel.

After exiting his car, Truex looked toward Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway and said: “I hope everybody is ready because we are going to be fast.’’

He starts second in the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks.

Truex, second in the points, has been fast with the same car he ran last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That car didn’t return to the Furniture Row Racing’s shop in Denver, Colo., until Monday night and was back on the road Tuesday for Dover.

The car debuted earlier this month at Kansas where Truex led the most laps before finishing ninth.

“It is kind of the latest and greatest that they could come up with,’’ Truex said of the car and why he will run it in the past three points races. “Honestly, it’s the only one we have right now. That is kind of the reason we keep turning it around. We don’t have a second car that is like this one yet. They are still building it.”

This car could help Truex snap a 68-race winless streak that goes back to his 2013 win at Sonoma.

While it would be easy for his team to be frustrated with the near misses the last couple of points races, Truex said his crew can’t afford to dwell on what has happened.

“I think for us it’s important to not lose focus of what we have been able to accomplish so far, what this team is capable of and to just try to keep learning and getting better,’’ he said. “So we can close the deal and win some races and, hopefully, at the end of the year be fighting for a championship.”

If Truex can score his third career Cup victory is just one of the storylines this weekend at Dover.

What will happen to Hendrick Motorsports? It’s not been a fun couple of weeks for the organization. The team failed to have a car advance to the final round of qualifying last week for the first time since Sonoma in June 2014. The team followed that by having only one of its cars finish in the top 10 in the Coca-Cola 600. After Jimmie Johnson was the fastest in practice Friday at Dover, Hendrick again failed to have a car advance to the final round of qualifying. The team didn’t adjust well to the changing track conditions Friday. A key question will be how each of the four teams handle the changing track conditions Sunday. If they don’t handle it well, Hendrick’s three-race winning streak at Dover could end.

Will Joe Gibbs Racing sweep the top two or three or four spots? Each of the four cars has been fast all weekend and it follows the organization’s strong performance at Charlotte with Denny Hamlin winning the Sprint All-Star race and Carl Edwards winning the Coca-Cola 600. All four Gibbs cars ranked in the top five in the final practice session Saturday led by Hamlin.

Pit road woes. Dover’s tight pit road often has created problems for drivers. It’s among the more tricky pit roads to enter. Once on pit road, the narrow lane makes entering and exiting stalls challenging. The 35-mph speed limit also is difficult for drivers. There were 13 pit road speeding penalties called in both Dover races combined last year with Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin each being penalized for speeding.

Sixth sense. The past five points races have been won by a different driver – Matt Kenseth at Bristol, Kurt Busch at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega, Jimmie Johnson at Kansas and Carl Edwards at the Coca-Cola 600. The longest streak of different winners this season is seven. Will the streak of different winners continue this weekend or will it be a familiar face taking the checkered flag first?