THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR: Drydene 400 preview, predictions
NASCAR heads for the Monster Mile this week in Dover, Delaware for the Drydene 400. This track is one of the toughest tracks on the schedule as its concrete surface is tough on the cars. Also expect to see a lot more tire fall off than we are accustomed to seeing at other tracks. Another interesting characteristic of this track is its unique banking. There are very few places that have corners that are 24 degrees of banking and straightaways that have 8 degrees of banking. On a track like this, it's nearly impossible to get on pit-road without speeding. Look for speeding penalties to come into play.
Last week, Martin Truex took the field to school and went on to his thirtieth career victory at Darlington. Truex led a race-high 248 laps! This is his third victory of 2021 as he now extends his lead on the field. One of the more promising aspects of the race was the traditional 750 horsepower package NASCAR ran. It was clear that this was one of the most challenging races of the season, cars were slipping and sliding and on the edge of control all day. Even the best drivers had trouble as Kyle Busch spun out on lap twenty-three going for the lead. Fortunately he was able to rebound and get a solid third place finish. While some fans thought the racing was boring because of Truex's domination, it was refreshing to see each driver really have to work hard. I hope we continue to see this going forward.
One of the big storylines this year has been the recent struggles of Stewart-Haas Racing. Last season, they were one of the top three teams in the sport as all four of their cars were competing for wins each week. Last year, they were able to combine for ten wins and all four cars advanced to the playoffs. It seemed like going into this season they would pick up right where they left off as they added Xfinity Series phenom Chase Briscoe to the fold to drive the #14 Ford Mustang replacing Clint Bowyer. Things were looking promising until the season started. From the beginning it seemed like Kevin Harvick was the only car that was competitive. Not much has changed from the beginning of the season as he remains the only car in the playoff picture. His teammates Aric Almirola and Cole Custer have been awful as well as they sit 28th and 26th in points. This will be quite the storyline as the season progresses.
This leads me to the driver I have winning this week at Dover, and it's Kevin Harvick. As I mentioned this had been one of the most difficult seasons for the 2014 champion. While his results haven't been bad, he hasn't been as fast as he has been over the past few years. He currently has led only thirty-nine laps all season and has a disappointing four top five finishes throughout thirteen races with zero wins. This week is the week I think he turns it around though and gets Stewart-Haas Racing back on track and in the playoffs. This is a track that has been very good to him over his twenty-year career. He has three victories here including last season in August when he led over two-hundred laps. If you look at his average finishes here in the last six races, his worst result was sixth. He knows how to get around this place better than anyone. Look for Harvick to capture his first checkered flag of 2021 come Sunday.