Who’ll Be The Monster Tamer


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IMG_0131The one-mile high banked oval track at Dover is called the Monster Mile and it came by that nickname honestly. Even though The Monster Mile is a one-mile oval, it seems that the drivers spend most of their time in the turns. The speeds are high and the G forces on the drivers are high, especially as they traverse those high banked turns and the wear and tear on drivers and equipment throughout the day often determines who wins the race. All of the above can contribute to the overall outcome and in particular, can often determine the emotional state of the drivers when the race is over.

Over the years of racing at the Monster Mile there have been many “Monster Tamers” and some of them have been better at it than many of the others. Jimmie Johnson comes to mind as one of those and he has a very high winning average when it comes to the Monster Mile at Dover. There’s no reason to go into a long-winded discussion of his winning statistics at this track but I do think that it needs to at least be mentioned that he’s probably one of the drivers to beat Sunday afternoon. He’s not the only one and I’m not saying he’s going to win; but there is a good chance that he will be at or near the front when it comes down to those final few laps.

Even though Jimmie Johnson should be high on the shortlist of who might win Sunday afternoon, there are several others that intend (at least hopefully) to make sure that he doesn’t get another victory to add to his many others at this track. Among those would be Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Kevin Harvick. Now that’s a pretty strong shortlist of possible winners and there are several others that could be added to it and probably should be. In fact it’s awfully hard to discount Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth or Clint Bowyer from that list and any one of those three could walk away with the victory.

From this fan’s view, this could be one of the most tightly contested races in recent times at the Dover track. Not only are there drivers that have proven their ability to tame the Monster but the cars are running faster than ever on this track and the lap times are very close together also. I’m not willing to say that someone may not walk away with it because there are a couple that are running very strong according to the practice and qualifying sessions.

Of course anyone who’s been paying even the slightest bit of attention this weekend would recognize that I’m talking about Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Either one of them could win and of the two, Kyle might be the more likely candidate. It doesn’t always follow that just because he does win in the Truck Series that he will win everything else he competes in on the weekend but, he does run well at the Monster. Having said that, it does still appear that the Joe Gibbs Toyotas have been struggling a bit so far this season. I’m sure that’s because they’re trying different things (or at least that’s what they would like us to believe) that will hopefully help them when they get to The Chase.

There are a couple of noticeable things going on as well in the practice sessions in particular and that may make for the possibility of someone completely unexpected winning Sunday afternoon’s race. Is it possible that this could be the weekend that Marcos Ambrose wins? In the later two practice sessions, he was much improved over his qualifying efforts. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he will win but he could be the one to end up in victory Lane when all is said and done.

There are a lot of things to take into account for winning the race on Sunday afternoon and it seems that it always comes down to these few things. First of all, at least from this fan’s view, track position is going to be more important than anything else all day long. With the speeds being as close as they are it is hard to imagine someone not having a very good chance at winning if they’ve been running at or near the front all day long. That brings us to the second important item which would be pit stops. The pit crews always have a lot of pressure on them these days but this Sunday afternoon is definitely going to be as pressure packed as any.

I really hate to bring up this third thing and I don’t really have any grounds for feeling or thinking the way I do but I’m concerned about the tires once again. With the speeds being is high as they are and the new track record this year at Dover, I just can’t shake the thought that tires might become an issue at some point in the race. I’m not blaming Goodyear nor am I saying that they’re not doing a good job, but I am saying that this year has been a new learning curve for them when it comes to these cars with the increased downforce and the stresses that it puts on the four items that hook up all of that horsepower to the track which is the tires. There may not be any failures but the possibility does have to be considered.

Of all the races at the Monster Mile in my recent memory, this is one of the ones that is difficult to choose a winner of before the race is run. Sure, I know there are a lot of names out there, well-known names, of possible choices for the winner but it just isn’t easy to pick one with so many possibilities available. In this fan’s opinion it’s going to come down to which one has the best tires if there is a late race caution and from my view that makes this one a real toss of the dice and hard to call…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 31, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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