By Cole Cusumano
If you asked many about what’s trending this week in NASCAR, it would predominantly be about Circuit of the Americas, but the reality is there’s a weekend of racing at Dover International Speedway. Perhaps it’s the level of intrigue surrounding the uncertainty of the new road course added to the schedule, or maybe it’s the fact we could be seeing a bit of monotony at tracks using the high-horsepower, low-downforce package and the Monster Mile being the furthest thing from the exception.
Following a bit of a fan perceived snoozer at Darlington Raceway, the 750-horsepower package seeks redemption in Delaware. Given recent history at Dover and common trends at intermediate-esque tracks in 2021, there’s a bit of a predictability surrounding the sport this weekend.
NASCAR Cup Series
The early allusion to monotony was in reference to who we can expect to see rise to the forefront at Dover based on trends, specifically Martin Truex Jr. Already a three-time winner in 2021, there’s no evidence implying a falling from grace after his victory in the Goodyear 400. In fact, his dominance is likely to carry over.
Tied for most wins among active drivers at the Monster Mile, Truex hasn’t placed below second over the last two years and won as recently as 2019. Dating back to the Fall of 2013, the driver of the No. 19 has 13 top-10s and hasn’t finished outside the top-15. He also has 980 laps led, which is third-most in the field.
“[Dover is] a unique track where you can use a lot of past history,” Truex told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “When we go there I don’t worry a whole lot about how fast we are or exactly what the set up is, I really just go by the feel of the car and knowing what I’m looking for. Once you figure it out, if you can duplicate that feel or those little tendencies your car has to do well, you can carry that through the years and we’ve been able to do that there.”
In terms of who may challenge Truex in the Drydene 400, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kyle Larson highlights this short list. He won his most recent race at Dover with 617 laps led and only placing outside the top-10 in three starts through 12 races.
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NASCAR Xfinity Series
For as blurred as the image is for the Cup Series postseason, the championship contingency is far more undefined for the Xfinity Series. Even with Justin Allgaier and reigning title winner Austin Cindric serving as repeat victors, no one has emerged as a convincing contender.
Speaking on Dover, it’s not a stretch to say we could be back-to-back winners in both Cup and Xfinity. Allgaier is the only driver in the field for the Drydene 200 with a series victory in the First State, with his most recent coming last year. Dating back as far as 2004, it’s strictly been current or retired premier level veterans to hoist the Mile the Monster trophy.
Cindric could be Allgaier’s worthiest adversary, as he hasn’t placed outside the top-10 any start at Dover, a series-leading average finish of 5.2 and the second-most laps led with 79. Additionally, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series favorite, John Hunter Nemechek, could be a viable candidate. Making his first Xfinity start since 2019 with Sam Hunt Racing, the 23-year-old has yet to place above sixth at the concrete track.
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The NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks things off at Dover International Speedway on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. ET with the Drydene 200. Next day, same sponsor, the NASCAR Cup Series tries to tame the monster with the Drydene 400 at 2 p.m. ET, both races on FS1.