NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes: Today at 2 PM from Dover International Speedway on FS1

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Drydene 400

The Place: Dover International Speedway

The Date: Sunday, May 16

The Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 120),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 240), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

Monster of a good time ahead for the NASCAR Cup Series at Dover

Next up on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Dover International Speedway and Sunday’s Drydene 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the 13th race of the season.

Aptly named the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway is a 1-mile concrete paved oval located in Dover Delaware. Dover International Speedway, originally known as Dover Downs International Speedway, has hosted 102 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to the inaugural event on July 6, 1969. The first Dover race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty driving a Petty Enterprises Ford (115.772 mph, 02:35:28). Petty actually won the first two Cup events at the track (1969, 1970).

In total, the 102 NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover have produced 42 different pole winners and 38 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in poles at Dover with six (1969, 1973 sweep, 1974, 1975, 1981). Ryan Newman (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007) and Denny Hamlin (2012, 2013, 2015, 2019) lead all active series drivers in poles at Dover with four poles each. Recently retired driver, Jimmie Johnson holds the series record for the most wins at Dover with 11 victories (2002 sweep, 2005 Playoffs, 2009 sweep, 2010 Playoffs, Spring of 2012, 2013 Playoffs, Spring of 2014, Spring of 2015, and Spring of 2017).

Of the 38 different NASCAR Cup Series winners at Dover International Speedway, nine are active this weekend. Four drivers are tied for the most wins among active drivers at Dover – Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Ryan Newman – each have three wins.

This weekend’s Drydene 400 race will be 400 laps (400 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 120 laps each and the final stage will be 160 laps. Since the inception of Stage racing in the Cup Series in 2017, six different drivers have won at least one stage at Dover, led by Kevin Harvick with six stage wins; followed by Martin Truex Jr. with four, Denny Hamlin with three and Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson each have one. Hamlin and Harvick swept both stages en route to their wins last season at Dover. 

Sunday’s Drydene 400 will set the starting lineup by Metric Qualifying and as a result Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. (pole) and Denny Hamlin (second) will start on the front row. Hamlin should feel quite fortuitous starting in the second position this weekend, as it is the most proficient starting position in the field producing (20) the most wins of any starting position – winning percentage 19.61%. And it’s the same starting position he won from last season.

Standings leader Denny Hamlin winless through first dozen races of the year

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin has become the first driver standings leader in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Era (2004-2021) to compete in the first 12 races of a season and not win a race.

Hamlin, the defending winner of this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway, is hoping to end his winless streak that has reached 17 events (dating back to Talladega on Oct. 4, 2020) and etch his name on the 2021 wins list.

Though Hamlin has yet to win this season, he has been very consistent putting up nine top-five finishes in 12 starts. He currently holds a 75-point lead in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in second.

Last season, Denny Hamlin put on a dominating performance at Dover leading a race-high 115 laps, winning both stages and grabbing his first career Monster Mile win. Hamlin has made 30 series starts at Dover collecting four poles, one win, six top fives and 13 top 10s.

If Hamlin happens to remain winless for the rest of the regular season, he will become the first NASCAR Cup Series driver standings points leader to make the postseason without a win.

Playoff Bubble: Points so tight a tiebreaker is needed along Playoff cutline

Twelve races into the NASCAR Cup Series regular season and the points around Playoff cutline are mighty close. So close, the NASCAR Cup Series needed a tiebreaker to decide who’s in and who’s out following Darlington.

When the checkered flag flew at Darlington Raceway last Sunday, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto ended up tied in points (268 points each) along the Playoff cutline in 16th and 17th, respectively. Reddick currently holds the tiebreaker of best finish with a runner-up back at Homestead-Miami Speedway compared to DiBenedetto’s best finish this season of fourth at Kansas Speedway.

Now the series turns its attention to Dover International Speedway, the halfway point of the regular season, and teams need to start considering a win might be their only option to make the postseason. With 13 races to go and several big names left without a win, time and Playoff spot availability are conspiring against the competitors still looking to seal their position in the Playoffs.

2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. added to his 2021 season wins total last weekend at Darlington Raceway getting his third victory of the year. Heading to Dover this weekend, 10 drivers have locked themselves into the Playoffs on wins, leaving one spot secured for the driver standings points leader (currently Denny Hamlin) and five additional spots up for grabs by virtue of a win or points position.

Interestingly, the top three winners from last season in the NASCAR Cup Series, combining to win 21 of the 36 races (58.3%), Kevin Harvick (nine wins), Denny Hamlin (seven wins) and Chase Elliott (five wins) are all still looking for their first trip to Victory Lane this season. All three have won at Dover International Speedway; including last season when both Denny Hamlin (Race 1) and Kevin Harvick (Race 2) each won. Elliott grabbed his lone victory at the Monster Mile back in 2018.

Countdown to the NASCAR All-Star Race: Who’s name will be added next?

Time is ticking and June 13 will be here before we know it for this season’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway. With the format announced and the current 17 eligible drivers already locked in, who will add their name to the list over the next four races (Dover, COTA, Charlotte, and Sonoma)? 

Those eligible for the NASCAR All-Star Race include drivers who won a points event in either 2020 or 2021; drivers who won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete full-time; and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series Championship and compete full-time. Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race spot this season are Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Cole Custer, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex Jr.

This weekend at Dover International Speedway nine active former Monster Mile winners are entered and all nine have secured their eligibility to the All-Star Race.

But four former NASCAR Xfinity Series Dover winners entered this weekend are looking earn their way into the All-Star and Playoffs with a win this weekend – Chase Briscoe (2020), Chris Buescher (2015), Daniel Suarez (2016) and Eric Jones (2016). Plus, two former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dover winners are entered this weekend hungry for their first win of 2021 – Tyler Reddick (2015) and Aric Almirola (2010).

Only two NASCAR Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Dover International Speedway: Martin Truex Jr. (June 4, 2007) and Jody Ridley (May 17, 1981).

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Coca-Cola Racing Family Driver Ryan Newman Visits Camp Lejeune, Trains with MARSOC – This week, as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600, Coca-Cola Family Racing driver Ryan Newman visited Camp Lejeune to learn from and train alongside members of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The day-long visit serves as a prelude to the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend and to highlight the shared connections between NASCAR and the U.S. Armed Forces.

“It’s special, just to be close and in contact and hear the stories of the Marines, that’s what’s really special to me,” Newman said. “What hit me the most was the emotional side of the canine unit and the memorial to the people and the dogs that didn’t make it – what happens when we fight for our freedom… It’s important for me to pay attention, to spread the word and to make people understand because I know that I have taken a lot for granted when it comes to how and what goes into fighting for our freedom.”

For entire release, b-roll, photos and additional information about Newman’s visit, select the following link: NASCARMedia

Reigning Rolex 24 LMP2 Champion Kyle Tilley to make NASCAR Cup Series debut with Live Fast Motorsports at COTA – Kyle Tilley, reigning Rolex 24 LMP2 Champion and Asian LeMans Series Pro/Am Champion, will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Circuit of The Americas on May 23, 2021 with Live Fast Motorsports. Tilley, who is currently competing in IMSA, the Asian LeMans Series and European LeMans Series and competes across the world in a multitude of different cars from current LMP prototypes to vintage Formula 1 cars, will add four NASCAR Cup Series races to his schedule in the 2021 season.

“The NASCAR Cup Series! To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I have always been a big fan of NASCAR and the close racing it provides,” Tilley said. “To have the opportunity to go up against the best at COTA is going to be both a huge challenge and learning curve, but one I am really looking forward to.” 

Tilley’s NASCAR Cup Series schedule is as follows: Circuit of The Americas (May 23), Road America (July 4), Watkins Glen International (August 8) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (August 15).

This weekend at Dover International Speedway the Live Fast Motorsports No. 78 Ford will be piloted by BJ McLeod. The 78 team will start 31st at Dover on Sunday.

NASCAR Salutes: Kurt Busch Dedication Ceremony at USS Dunham, Mayport Naval Station – This week, Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kurt Busch, along with officials from the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), unveiled the name of fallen service member, U.S. Marine Corporal (Cpl.) Jason Dunham, whose name will be adorned on the windshield of the No. 1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet as part of the NASCAR Salutes program. As a result of his selfless and heroic actions to save the lives of other Marines while serving in Iraq, Dunham was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in 2004. He was 22 at the time of his death. The award was the first Medal of Honor to be awarded to a United States Marine since the Vietnam war.

Later this month, the No. 1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet Camaro that Busch will pilot in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30, will carry the name of Cpl. Dunham as part of NASCAR Salutes, 600 Miles of Remembrance. Through collaboration with CGR team partners GEARWRENCH and The American Legion, Dunham’s family gave the blessing to use this event to honor their son and brother, by caring his name on the No. 1 Chevy. Busch is a previous winner of NASCAR’s longest race, as he won the event in 2010.

COURTESY NASCAR INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS

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