Dover International Speedway has earned its reputation as "The Monster Mile." Just when a driver thinks they have the one-mile concrete oval figured out, the Monster will sneak up and show them who is the boss. The only driver who has bested the Monster more than once in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) is the boss of Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), Kyle Busch. He has taken the checkered flag four times at Dover, and rookie Noah Gragson hopes to learn some of his secrets to defeat the Monster himself.
Gragson only has one prior start at Dover in last fall's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. He started third, but finished 24th after a blown right-front tire took him out of contention near the halfway point of the race while running in the top five. That was when he learned how tough the Monster can be. This week he hopes to keep his No. 18 Switch Tundra out of the Monster's grip by staying up front for 200 laps.
He has a pretty solid mentor to lean on at Dover in his team owner, Busch. Gragson, along with fellow KBM drivers Todd Gilliland and Christopher Bell spent time picking his brain and looking for advice about Dover in a recent competition meeting. Although it is unlikely Busch taught them all of the secrets of a four-time NCWTS winner, the advice he does give is a welcome learning tool.
In five NCWTS starts this season, Gragson has scored one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His top-10 finish two weeks ago at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway felt like a win after gaining five positions in the final three laps to finish ninth. Gragson will be the first to admit the intermediate tracks have been a learning experience for him understanding the aerodynamics and what it takes to pass trucks in dirty air.
This week Gragson will not back down to the Monster and look for a solid finish at Dover.