Statistically Analyzing the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks
Around this time every week, Speedway Digest has our race previews. However, since we will be at the race track this weekend, Speedway Digest is doing something a little different. Instead of our normal race previews, we have come up with an analysis for each of the 43 drivers entered on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry list for the FedEX 400 Benefiting Austim Speaks.
- Jamie McMurray: Won Coca-Cola 600 and has momentum on his side. Three top-10s this year, but has struggled at Dover with just five top-10s in 22 starts. Hasn’t led at Dover since 2008 with RFR.
- Brad Keselowski: After winning at Las Vegas, Keselowski is looking for his second Dover win. Finished fifth in this event last year, and is looking for his second top-five after his Vegas win – scoring just two top-10 finishes since then (Richmond and Charlotte).
- Austin Dillon: The ROTY candidate is currently 15th in points as he has been leaning towards finishing inside the top-15 on a consistent basis. This will be his second Cup Series start at Dover after finishing 27th in this race last year for Phoenix Racing. Has a Nationwide Series pole at Dover in spring of 2013; finished inside the top-10 in all four races at Dover. 2 Truck Series starts as well, best finish of fourth in 2011.
- Kevin Harvick: Very hot start to 2014, but has been hit or miss with four finishes of 36th or worse. Won at Phoenix and Darlington, coming off of back-to-back runner-up finishes at Kansas & Charlotte. Looking for first win at Dover after two top-10s last year & runner-up finish in 2012. 12 top-10s in 26 starts at Dover. Never won at Dover in any of the three top divisions. Two top-fives in CWTS & never finished better than third in 17 NNS starts.
- Kasey Kahne: Was fast at Charlotte, but 14th place finish didn’t show after missing his pit stall, getting blocked by Ryan Truex. Kahne has four top-10s this year & enters Dover 17th in points without a win. Never won at Dover in the NSCS & has struggled there since joining HMS – finishing outside of the top-10 in three of four races. Eight top-10s in 14 starts at Dover in NNS.
- Michael Annett: The smaller tracks have been good for TBR in the past, and Dover fits right into that. Annett has had his struggles this year, but has three straight top-30 finishes. Finished third in Dover NNS race in 2012, and had eight top-15s in 10 starts at the track.
- Marcos Ambrose: He has struggled in 2014 as his teammate has excelled. However, he has done exceptionally well at smaller race tracks, and has a third-place finish at Dover in 2011. Seven straight top-20s at Dover.
- Danica Patrick: Has made big improvements this year, competing for top-25s on a weekly basis. Best finish at Dover was 24th, but had success at Bristol and has recently been running well. Two NNS finishes of 30th or worse with best finish of 16th.
- Denny Hamlin: Missed Auto Club due to metal in his eye, but won at Talladega. Struggled the last two weekends, as he looks to gain momentum back. Just three top-10s this year. Looking for first Dover win – best finish was fourth twice (2007 & 2010). Running special scheme for Autism Awareness. Won NNS races at Dover in 2007 & 2008.
- Casey Mears: He has been hit or miss this with the RCR alliance. Did well at Dover last year for Germain, finishing 16th and 24th, looking for sixth straight top-20.
- Tony Stewart: Returned to sprint car racing this weekend, won at Dover last year – lone victory of 2013. Starting to turn the corner after a rough start to 2014, has two top-fives, but both were on pit strategy races. Looking for fourth Dover victory in what will be his 30th start.
- Clint Bowyer: Been mediocre this season. Only has one top-five after signing multi-year extension with MWR, Brian Pattie & 5-Hour Energy. Looking for seventh straight top-10 at Dover with an average finish of 12.6 at the track. 20th in points entering Dover, needs some momentum.
- Greg Biffle: With rumors swirling around this team, Biffle is just looking for consistency. Has four top-10s this year, but three finishes of 21st or worse. Two-time winner at Dover (2005 & 2008), but has struggled since 2009 – not leading a single lap with just two top-10s spanning 2010 until last year’s event.
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: With three top-10s this year, he already has the amount he had in his rookie year. After having a runner-up finish at Bristol, he has seven finishes of 20th or worse. Finished on the lead lap only twice since then, and Dover is the right place to do that. Three straight finishes of 17th or better at Dover & two top-fives in six NNS races.
- Kyle Busch: Doing the triple this weekend btwn. NSCS, NNS and NCWTS, Busch will be extremely busy. Won three CWTS races at Dover & has led 19 or more laps in all eight Truck races he’s run. Led a total of 161 laps in both NNS events at Dover last year, but failed to finish better than fifth. Has three NNS wins at Dover & looking for his 66th win in his 280th NNS start. Has two wins at Dover in the NSCS, both in this event (2008 & 2010). Led 150 laps in this event last year and has led 90 or more laps at Dover in five of his 18 starts at the track. Looking for fourth straight top-seven finish.
- Matt Kenseth: Going back to old form where he struggles while starting races, but gets very good as the race goes on. Finished third at Charlotte, looking for 10th top-10 of the year. Two-time Dover winner, looking for 20th top-10 in what will be his 31st start. Also running the NNS race, two wins in NNS competition with third place finish last year.
- Joey Logano: Has two wins this year & is running the NNS race. Looking for fifth straight NNS win at Dover. Four straight top-10s in the Cup Series at Dover, average finish of 15.4. With one more win this year, he ties the amount that he has had entering this year.
- Alex Bowman: ROTY candidate for BK Racing. Best NNS finish at Dover was 17th. Five finishes of 30th or better this year. Looking to just stay out of trouble.
- Jeff Gordon: After having back spasms at Charlotte, Gordon is good to go for Dover. Already captured his first win this year at Kansas, and has three straight top-four finishes at Dover. Has only one finish outside the top-20 at Dover since 2006. Currently the points leader, looking for his 90th career win. Has four wins at Dover in 42 starts with 24 top-10s.
- Cole Whitt: Since switching to BK Racing after Swan Racing closed, he has three top-30 finishes. Finished 27th in lone NSCS start at Dover last year, but has finished no worse than 16th in four NNS races at Dover (a pair of 16th place finishes for TriStar Motorsports last year).
- Paul Menard: Has been very consistent this year with six top-10s. Has just one top-10 at Dover, but has finished 22nd or better in five straight races at the track. Currently 16th in points coming off of a top-10 at Charlotte.
- Ryan Newman: He hasn’t been great this year, but like Menard, Newman has been very consistent – not finishing worse than 22nd this year. He’s ninth in points, but only has four top-10s in his first year for RCR. Average finish of 12.9 at Dover with 12 top-10s in 24 starts. Looking for first win this year. Has only led 10 laps this year.
- Blake Koch: Making just his fourth start in the NSCS. Primarily a driver for TriStar Motorsports in the NNS just looking for an opportunity to race.
- David Stremme: Making just his fourth start this year after running out of luck at Swan Racing. Missed Texas, best finish of the year was 35th at Richmond. Finished 28th at Dover last year.
- David Ragan: Team has struggled this year with new rules package with best finish of 27th at Fontana. Dover has been good for this small team over the years with three top-25s in the last four races.
- Reed Sorenson: Has Click it or Ticket on board this weekend. Besides 16th at Daytona, best finish has been 21st at Fontana. Just looking for a consistent run for TBR in his 14th Dover start.
- David Gilliland: Has struggled at Dover since joining FRM, coming off of three straight finishes of 37th or worse this year. Did well at Richmond and Bristol, expecting a top-25.
- Landon Cassill: Missed Phoenix and Las Vegas, but has made all races since then. Top-30 at all the short tracks this year, Dover shouldn’t be any different. Running the double with JD Motorsports in the NNS. Has struggled at Dover in the NNS before, but when they don’t have issues, this team has been in the top-20 weekly.
- Kyle Larson: Finished second and 10th at Dover last year in the NNS. Running the double again for TSM. Has five top-10s this year. Looking for seventh straight top-16 in NSCS competition as he is 13th in points.
- Aric Almirola: Coming off of a career-best year, Almirola is set to better that this year. Finished third at Bristol, and has three top-10s already this year, but he’s 19th in points. After signing a multi-year deal with RPM, he is looking to show why the team signed him. Four straight top-17 finishes, and has never finished worse than 22nd at Dover. Making 120th career start.
- J.J. Yeley: Has DNQed for six races this year and blew engines in the two races he did make. Average finish at Dover is worse than 30th. Running the NNS race for JGL Racing – finished no worse than 21st in eight starts.
- A.J. Allmendinger: The smaller the track the better for JTG Daugherty Racing. They have three top-10s already this year, and Dover is arguably Allmendinger’s best track. Led 143 laps with RPM in 2010, and ran towards the top-half of the field since 2008 at Dover with an average finish of 22.9.
- Jimmie Johnson: The all-time wins leader at Dover with eight victories, he recorded his first 2014 win at Charlotte this past weekend. Average finish at Dover – 8.7. Has led at least one lap in every Dover race in last 13 events while leading 143 or more laps in nine of those races. He’s sixth in points with seven top-10s and 691 laps led entering Dover. Looking for 68th career win.
- Justin Allgaier: Starting to click with his new crew chief, Steve Addington. Has had some issues last two weeks not of his own doing, but was running rather well compared to the other ROTY candidates. His best finish this year was 17th at Bristol. Only has one top-five in 10 NNS starts at Dover, but has four top-10s with a pair of 12th place finishes last year.
- Brian Vickers: Currently eighth in points, Vickers is looking to get his sixth top-10 of the year. Finished 12th at Dover last year in his first start at the track since 2011, and has performed better this year than Bowyer has. Coming off of a sixth-place finish at Charlotte, might be a contender for the win.
- Brett Moffitt: Making Sprint Cup Series debut for Identity Ventures Racing in place of Joe Nemechek. Came short of NASCAR Camping World East Series title five years in a row with a total of nine wins and 44 top-10s in 61 starts. Has one NNS start for RAB Racing in 2012 at Iowa where he finished ninth and two CWTS starts last year.
- Dave Blaney: Has failed to qualify for 10 races this year, and parks early when he does make the race.
- Martin Truex Jr.: Had a good run going at Charlotte, but had some trouble on pit road that cost them another decent finish. He has not led a lap this year after the MWR fiasco. If there is anywhere he can turn his luck around, it is Dover – the site of his first career win and his home track. Has six top-10s in 16 starts at Dover, but has been hit or miss.
- Ryan Truex: Ran Bristol last year for Phoenix Racing after Harry Scott took control of the team – finishing 32nd. Missed two races this year, and hasn’t finished a race since Richmond. Nearly won the NNS race at Dover in 2012, and never finished worse than 18th in NNS competition at his home track.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.: After finishing no worse than 11th in the past four races at Dover, he is bound to contend for the win this weekend. Hasn’t won at Dover since 2001, but finished second last year. Looking for his 11th top-10 in what will be his 29th Dover start. He dropped to fifth in points after his extremely hot start this year, but he has six top-fives and has run well the past five races.
- Josh Wise: Running a special scheme with Reddit.com in conjunction with iRacing to help fund this program. Team was impressive at Bristol and Darlington which has truly sparked a ton of attention for them. Also running the NNS race for The Motorsports Group where he has had some good runs this year.
- Carl Edwards: Edwards has back-to-back finishes inside the top-10, but speculation has him leaving RFR at the end of the year. Has seven top-10s this year and is third in points. Besides his Bristol win, Edwards has not led more than eight laps in an event this year. Edwards recorded a win at Bristol in 2007, and has 12 top-10s at the track with an average finish of 10th.
Here is the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover:
- Practices: Friday, May 30 at 11 a.m. ET until 12:20 p.m. ET. Saturday, May 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET until 10:20 a.m. ET as well as final practice at 12:30 p.m. ET until 1:20 p.m. ET.
- Qualifying: Friday, May 30 at 3:40 p.m. ET.
- Race: Sunday, June 1 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.
Statistics were used thanks to Racing-Reference.info.
Joseph Wolkin (@JosephNASCAR) is a sophomore at the Queensborough Community College as an English major. He’s a native of Whitestone, NY, just outside of New York City, and has been attempting to find roots of motorsports within his area since 2004. He started out as just a fan, but over the course of his high school career, he ended up falling in love with writing.
Joseph has been covering NASCAR since 2011 for several different websites. Recently, he was named as one of two lead NASCAR columnists for Rant Sports after working for the site for over one year. Working with Rant Sports for approximately 14 months, Joseph has covered New York City area sports teams such as the New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and more.
Through his passion is for NASCAR, Joseph has adapted to changing times and realizes that he has numerous opportunities in the journalism work. As one of the top young sports writers, his goal is to become one of the top motorsports writers of this new digital media era. However, he also believes that it’s important to stick to the traditional routers of print publications after seeing his high school newspaper dissolve due to a lack of funding.
Currently, besides his duties with Speedway Digest, Joseph is a columnist with Fronstretch.com, Motorsport.com and has a weekly article in NASCAR Pole Position's digital version - ROAR! Weekly Race Preview Magazine.
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