AAA 400

NASCAR America: Keelan Harvick is stronger than Miles the Monster

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Kevin Harvick’s victory in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway was his second at the track and he hopes this trophy fares better than his first one.

Harvick’s first Dover win in October 2015 was also earned with Stewart-Haas Racing. His son Keelan Harvick was so taken by the trophy – which features a replica of Miles the Monster holding the winning car – that he asked for it to be kept in his playroom.

It took just one day for Keelan to break the arm off of the concrete monster.

Keelan will have a second chance with Sunday’s trophy.

“We’ll put it in the same spot in the playroom for a while,” Harvick said after the race. “We’ll have to go hose it off first because it smells like beer. It’s always strange trying to explain to people why his playroom smells like beer.”

For more, watch the above video.

NASCAR America: Some drivers stood out at Dover for making mistakes

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Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. stood out last week at Dover International Speedway in the AAA 400, but not for the reasons they would have wanted.

With competition being so tight throughout the field, success is increasingly defined by drivers eliminating mistakes, according to NASCAR America analysts Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman.

Larson was hit with two penalties during the race weekend – one that dropped him to the back of the field and forced him to give up his pole position and one that cost him two laps for an uncontrolled tire.

“Generally as (the race track widens out) it makes passing easier, but that wasn’t the case (Sunday),” Jarrett said. “Things were just different there. And I think it’s all year you’re seeing this. That’s why it’s so important that these teams stop making mistakes on pit road.”

“One thing that’s adding to this is we’re not seeing a lot of cautions these days,” Kligerman added. “It just seems to be a lot of green flag racing, so when you make a mistake and you’re having to come back through the field, cautions help you, right? They group the field back; you can get a good pit stop to make up for that last one; make up a couple of spots there. But when it’s green flag and it’s purely down to speed and your ability to pass – and we saw from Martin Truex that he wasn’t able to do that when he got back in the pack.”

For more, watch the above video.

NASCAR America: Chevrolet’s struggles may not be over for some while

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Following his 26th-place finish in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, Austin Dillon took to Periscope to express his frustration with what he perceives to be a competitive disadvantage between Chevrolet and Ford. Dillon drives the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman discussed the manufacturer rivalry – and suggested that the problem may not be easy one to fix.

“I don’t think (Chevrolet teams) are at that point yet with pushing the panic button,” Jarrett said. “We’re not that far – 11 races in – but we saw Toyota come on last year. By Charlotte through the All-Star Race, they kind of found their footing.”

It may not be as simple as getting enough races under the Chevrolet teams’ belts to understand the handling of their individual cars, however.

“I don’t believe the Chevrolet teams are equipped to do this as much because we have different organizations with RCR, with Hendrick Motorsports, with Chip Ganassi Racing,” Jarrett said. “I just don’t see them working as well together as what the Toyota group did to make all this happen.”

Kligerman believes that the mindset among the top Chevrolet organizations might well stand in the way of immediate success.

“They have a lot of teams that are kind of spread out – but also legacy teams,” he said. “When I look at Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing, who have been with Chevy for as long as I remember, these are two teams who are normally used to going out there and trying to beat each other. And now you are going ask them to change their entire model, their way of thinking to help another enemy.”

For more, watch the above video.

NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s unique approach equals success

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It took more than a minute to highlight Jimmie Johnson’s record 11 wins at Dover International Speedway.

And when they were done showcasing his victories – the most recent of which came last spring – the conversation inevitably turned to whether Johnson needs a victory this week in order to regain his reputation.

“I think his fans would love and perhaps need a win, but Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus don’t need a win,” said NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte. “They don’t have to prove to each other they can win. They need to continue to improve.”

Johnson’s wins have come in a variety of ways, but they are all partly attributable to the way he visualizes Dover.

“The best story I can say is: We were in a debrief one day and we had some big names in there – Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson – and Jimmie takes about five or six minutes with this very eloquent lap. ‘When I get in the corner, I look around at the apex. It does this, it does that, it does this’ and he had some great stuff. And I remember, I look at Dale and I was like, ‘Is our car doing that?’ And Dale looked at me and says, ‘I’m not on that track.’ ”

And that is part of what has made Johnson so successful at Dover. His unique talent for this track is not related to shocks, springs and aerodynamics, but how he approaches the corners.

For more, watch the above video.

Martin Truex Jr. thinks his luck is about to turn around

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When Martin Truex Jr. sustained crash damage last week at Talladega Superspeedway and finished 26th, it marked the first time since the spring 2016 that he finished outside the top 10 in four consecutive races.

Truex sustained crash damage in three of the last four races (Texas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Talladega) and had a problem in the pits at Richmond Raceway.

But Truex has a reason to be hopeful. All except one of the next seven tracks are ones on which he has won – and the other is a track where he might have won on multiple occasions.

First on the calendar is Dover International Speedway and this week’s AAA 400.

Truex scored his first career victory there in 2007. He earned a second victory in 2016. Last year, he swept the top five with a third in the spring and fourth in the fall.

“I just like the race track a lot,” Truex said in a press release. “The first time I went there, I fell in love with the place. Enjoy the challenge of it – it is so different than anywhere else we go. I feel if you like it, you have an advantage. It’s been good to me over the years and I enjoy going there. The banking, the concrete, the surface and the way you land in the corners there – it’s just crazy.”

Along with Dover, Truex has two wins at Kansas Speedway (both races last  year), Charlotte Motor Speedway (2016 Coke 600 and last fall’s Bank of America 500) and Chicagoland Speedway (2016 and 2017).

He has single wins at Pocono Raceway (2015) and Sonoma Raceway (2013).

“The upcoming seven tracks have been good to us and we obviously would like to get some wins during this stretch,” said Truex. “We’ve had a rough few weeks – not from a performance standpoint but from a finishing standpoint. We need to make up some points.”

That leaves only Michigan International Speedway as a track on which he has not yet won among the next seven races. Truex has come close on several occasions, however, with second- or third-place finishes. In 2007, he finished in the runner-up position in both races. In 2015, he was third both times NASCAR visited the track – and he added one more third in 2013.

Truex’s most recent effort at Michigan netted a second-place finish to Kyle Larson last summer.

“I know we’re capable of winning any of the next seven races, but a couple of wins is a realistic goal,” he said. “Michigan for sure is one place that we should have won by now, just haven’t been able to put the finishes together at the end of the race.”

And while Truex does not have a victory at Michigan, it is notable that his only win so far this year came at Auto Club Speedway – a track similar to Michigan.

On the next seven tracks combined, Truex has amassed 10 of his 16 Cup wins, along with 29 total top fives and 53 top 10s in 140 starts. Thirteen of these top 10s have come at Dover.