drive sober 200

Tyler Reddick, Brennan Poole going for Dover Xfinity sweep for Ganassi

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For the last 11 years, Dover International Speedway has been really kind to the Xfinity Series team that won the spring race at 1-mile track.

Because in eight of the last 11 seasons, the team that won that race also went on to win the fall event at “The Monster Mile.”

Beginning in 2006, the only years this hasn’t taken place were 2007, ’09 and ’15.

Chip Ganassi Racing is the organization that’s set up to try to extend this trend after Kyle Larson won in June. Of its 13 Xfinity wins, it was Ganassi’s first at the track.

Piloting the No. 42 Chevrolet this weekend is the newest winner among the ranks of Xfinity drivers, Tyler Reddick. Joining him in the effort is playoff driver Brennan Poole in the No. 48. The duo delivered a 1-2 finish for Ganassi last weekend.

Reddick, who won at Dover in the Camping World Truck Series in 2015, is coming off winning last Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

“We can’t get too caught up in Kentucky,” Reddick said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” on Wednesday. “Yeah, it’s the first win. Yeah, it’s exciting, but I don’t want to pass up another good opportunity at Dover, a place the 42 won already this year. I need to hunker down and get focused on it.”

When Larson won, he led 137 laps from the pole to beat Ryan Blaney, who will be back in the No. 22 Ford this weekend for Team Penske.

“(The 42) car was so good there,” Reddick said. “Kyle and the 22 of Ryan Blaney had the field covered by 15 seconds at the end of that race. So I know our car is fast. … We know what we need to do. My first time there in a Xfinity car, it will be a little tough at first. … I will just have to adjust what I do as I’ve done in the past. (Crew chief) Mike (Shiplett) has tried to make the car as close to what Kyle has. … I’m sure I’ll be fine. Dover is a track I love a lot. It’ll be an exciting challenge.”

Poole, in his second full-time season with Ganassi, will be making his fifth start at the high-banked oval. In his first four, he did not finish better than 10th (May 2016).

“Dover is a really tough race track, it’s definitely one of the most demanding tracks that we go to,” Poole told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” on Wednesday. “We’ll have to make sure our car gets through the bumps really well and make sure we don’t get tied to the 2/3-mark in the corners. That sounds strange, but the corners are so long at Dover you get where you’re carrying some maintenance throttle. So you’re half-throttle in the middle of the corner and the car will get tight on you as you’re trying to make the final turn up out of the corner.”

Unlike last weekend at Kentucky, a standalone race for the Xfinity Series, there will be six Cup regulars in the race.

Poole said that will have some impact on the potential pit strategy calls his team makes over the course of the 200-lap race.

“There’s some pit strategy and stuff like that that could put you behind on having an opportunity to get up there and win the race,” Poole said. “You just have to be smart on the pit strategy and decisions you make on keeping some of your track position and still making sure you’re going to get those stage points.”

Poole cited that although he came in second at Kentucky to Reddick, he lost a spot in the points after placing 12th in Stage 2.

“I’m sixth in points where I started fifth,” Poole said. “So I think you’ll see a lot of guys going after stage points.”

If either Ganassi driver is able to complete the Dover sweep, it would join Joe Gibbs Racing (five times), Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing (once each) in completing it since 2006.

The Use Your Melon, Drive Sober 200 airs at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN.

Alex Bowman quickest in rain-shortened final Xfinity practice at Dover

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Alex Bowman had the fastest speed in the rain-shortened final Xfinity Series practice at Dover International Speedway.

Bowman and the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports had a speed of 152.304 mph when the session was red flagged for rain with about 45 minutes left.

Filling out the top five was Kyle Busch (152.181), Joey Logano (152.046), Elliott Sadler (151.592) and Justin Allgaier (151.439).

Ty Dillon (148.457) and Justin Marks (145.406) were the only drivers to record 10-consecutive laps. Marks also recorded the most laps at 20.

Speed Chart

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Justin Allgaier sees Dover as only true ‘unknown’ of Xfinity Chase

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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There’s one big rule of thumb for Justin Allgaier when it comes to the concrete high banks at Dover International Speedway.

“What goes up, must come down,” Allgaier says.

Dover, with its 24-degree banking and one of the oldest track surfaces in NASCAR, made Allgaier circle the “Monster Mile” as the biggest unknown of the seven races in the Xfinity Chase. Dover is the second Chase race after the opener at Kentucky Speedway.

“A lot of the racetracks we go to are mile-and-a-half in our series Chase,” Allgaier said while promoting the Chase in Philadelphia. “We know what to expect. Even Phoenix … we understand what to expect. But Dover is the one, it’s a tricky racetrack to begin with, just by yourself.”

Of the seven Chase races, only Dover and Phoenix are shorter than 1.5-miles. Allgaier started from the pole at Dover in May after winning the first heat race and finished fourth.

“The biggest challenge is the banking,” Allgaier said. “As cars slide back down the pavement, as things transpire through the course of the race, it’s really hard to get away from other competitors, especially if they’re in trouble or they’re having crashes.”

In the last five Xfinity Dover races, there have been an average of 3.8 cautions. The most was five in the fall 2014 race.

“Another challenge is just not beating yourself,” Allgaier continued. “It’s one of those places that you can overdrive and blow a tire or overdrive and crash yourself really easily. From my standpoint, you’re going to have to almost back it down a little bit, even though you need the speed to run up front and to be competitive. I think you’re going to back it down just a touch to be there at the end to even have a shot to go for the win.”

Heading into the Drive Sober 200, Allgaier is sixth on the Xfinity Chase grid, which is a small miracle in itself. At Kentucky, Allgaier and his No. 7 Chevrolet were in fourth when they were involved in a Lap 130 crash with Sam Hornish Jr. that damaged Allgaier’s front fender. But by the end of the night, with the help of a late caution that took out Erik Jones and Ty Dillon, Allgaier finished ninth.

But Allgaier is only two points ahead of the cutoff spot in eighth.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Allgaier said of Kentucky. “We really shouldn’t have had the speed that we did to get back up through the field and to be able to get into ninth even. For that, I’m excited. However, because of the points being reset, because of the Chase format, it’s dropped us farther in the series points then I would like. It’s not like there’s a comfortable zone without a win, but at the same time I do feel like the higher up you are on the board, the more comfortable you can be going into each and everyone of these races.”

Entry list for Xfinity’s Driver Sober 200 at Dover

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There are 41 cars on the preliminary entry list for the Xfinity Series’ Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway.

The second race of the Xfinity Chase, there are four Sprint Cup drivers in the race: Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto and Joey Logano.

Erik Jones won the spring race at the “Monster Mile.” The defending winner of the fall race is Regan Smith. Xfinity regulars have won the last three races at Dover.

The only two cars without drivers attached yet for the No. 77 and No. 97 of Obaika Racing.

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