Here’s a look at five key Sprint Cup drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Dover International Speedway.
The hottest driver in the Sprint Cup Series hasn’t won at Dover since Spring 2010, but he has posted eight top 10s in the 11 Dover races since then. Last spring, he was in line for a top-five finish until he was involved in an incident with Brian Scott. Busch delivered a second-place finish in the fall playoff race that helped him advance. Another effort like that would be par for the course this season for Kyle, who leads the series with nine top-five finishes.
With Kyle Busch white-hot, Johnson’s mastery at the Monster Mile may be severely tested this weekend. But you can’t argue with his success there: 10 wins (most all-time), 2,999 laps led (again, most all-time), and a 9.1 average finish over his career (best among active drivers). Another victory would make him just the third driver in Sprint Cup history to earn at least 11 wins at a single track, joining Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. And with one more lap led, Johnson will become the seventh Sprint Cup driver to pace at least 3,000 laps at a single track.
Harvick’s clutch elimination race win at Dover last fall was a culmination of improved performance there since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. He’s led 693 laps in his last four Dover starts, and arguably could’ve had at least three Miles the Monsters on his mantle by now. A valve stem problem on his left front tire cost him a likely win in Sept. 2014 (led 223 laps) and he lost out to Jimmie Johnson last spring in a green-white-checkered finish.
While Harvick has enjoyed good results at Dover since joining SHR, the same can’t be said for teammate Kurt Busch, who only has an average finish of 21st in his last four Dover runs. But that figures to change with Kurt Busch riding lots of momentum thanks to nine top-10 finishes in the first 11 races this season.
While his great run at Kansas ended in a late-race wreck, Larson should be confident as he heads to Dover. Although he has only four career Cup starts there, he’s posted a strong 7.2 average finish with no finish worse than 11th. Additionally, 88 percent of his laps at Dover have been spent inside the top 15. At 52 points behind the Chase cutoff, a big result is certainly needed and Dover just might be the place for him to get it.
FORT WORTH, Texas — The NASCAR garage is sharing its prayers for Stewart-Haas Racing engineer DJ VanderLey, who was injured Thursday night in a crash during a micro sprint Outlaw race at the Texas Motor Speedway dirt track.
He suffered several fractured vertebrae and has a spinal cord injury, according to a post from his wife Jordan on her Facebook page.
Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help the family with medical costs.
VanderLey was Chase Briscoe’s engineer for four years, and they are good friends.
“I hate that it happened to anybody,” Briscoe said Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, “but for it to hit close to home has definitely been tough for me.”
Briscoe said he planned to visit VanderLey in the hospital on Saturday and that “I just hope that everybody continues to pray. That’s really all we can do at this point, trying to hope he gets better.”
Christopher Bell calls VanderLey among his best friends. VanderLey was Bell’s engineer at Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2016.
Bell spent the night at the hospital and also picked up Jordan VanderLey at the airport when she arrived.
Stewart-Haas Racing had a decal for VanderLey on Riley Herbst‘s No. 98 Xfinity car for Saturday’s race.
Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).
Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.
The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.
Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. It is McDowell’s best oval start of the season and his ninth top-10 start of the year.
Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher, Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.
Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.
Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.
“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”
Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.
The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.
The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.
Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.
The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).
Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:
START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.
TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.
FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.
LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.
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