THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR at Dover picks and preview
The NASCAR Cup Series heads for the Monster Mile this week at Dover. This track is one of the toughest tracks to pass on, considering it’s a single-groove racetrack. Its abrasive surface also raises a challenge. It will be interesting to see what type of tire wear we will see with the new cars. Over the last few years, usually, the racing here is rather clean. In last season's race, the first incident didn’t occur until 176 laps into the race. When the incidents do come, though, they are hard to avoid with the track being as narrow as it is. More than likely, the winner of the race will be the driver that conserves their tires the best. Last season, we saw Kyle Larson lose the race to his teammate Alex Bowman because his tires went away in the end.
Last week, Ross Chastain went on to capture his second victory of 2022 in a thrilling last-lap pass at Talladega. As the field was coming to the checkered flag, Erik Jones went to the outside to try and block Kyle Larson, and Chastain was able to slip by for the victory. It has been a dream season for Chastain and his teammate Daniel Suarez. Both drivers are in the mix for wins every week, If Suarez can get a victory, they will certainly be contenders in the playoffs.
Another driver who deserves some praise is Michael McDowell. After finally breaking the seal last year and capturing that first career win in the Daytona 500, he’s proven that he can run upfront. And he’s shown that over the past two weeks with back-to-back Top 10 finishes. Since 2018, he has provided a sense of stability to this team and while his future at Front-Row Motorsports is unclear, it has been great to see him find success in these last two weeks.
Kyle Busch was in the headlines last week. During the opening weekend media availability, Kyle was asked by Bob Pockrass about the status of his contract for the 2023 season. He responded by saying, “ask Joe Gibbs.” He then talked about if there was any chance he would go to another team, to which he responded, “Probably not.” These comments can either be one of two things. A ploy for Busch to try and pressure his boss to get a deal done, or the beginning of maybe one of the biggest silly season moves in the history of the sport. In the last decade, only Jimmie Johnson has had more success than Busch has. Joe Gibbs Racing would be absolutely insane to let Kyle Busch walk away from everything they have built. This could be an interesting storyline to follow over the next few months.
The driver that I have winning this week is William Byron. Each season, Byron has continued to improve greatly. He’s gone from a fringe playoff contender to a championship favorite. He’s won two races this year, including a victory at Martinsville. This track has been good to Byron, he’s finished in the Top 10 in three of the last four races, including a third-place finish last spring. He will be fast come Sunday.