THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR heads to Delaware for the Dover 400
This week, NASCAR heads for the monster mile in Dover Delaware for the first race in NASCAR's round of 12. Like we saw last time we were here, this race will feature NASCAR's 750 horsepower package and considering its length so we should see similar racing to what we have seen in years past. Back in May when the Cup series was here last, Martin Truex Jr went on to lead 132 laps and win by a blistering nine and a half seconds over Alex Bowman. As of late, the fall race here has either been really tame where one car dominates or fairly intriguing towards the end where the leader finds a way to mess up and someone we maybe didn't expect comes away with the win. Last season, we saw Kevin Harvick lead over 200 laps but after a bad pit-stop Harvick would have to settle for a sixth place finish. The winner of the race was Chase Elliott as he would only lead the final eleven laps and would move on to the next round. Look for this to come up as there is a lot on the line for the 12 drivers remaining in the playoffs. Another reason why it is important to try and run well here is what lies ahead next week at Talladega and as any NASCAR fan knows, anything can go wrong can at Talladega so it will be especially urgent for these drivers to eliminate any possibilities and put as much cushion between them and the cutline.
Last week, Chase Elliott made one of the most incredible comebacks in NASCAR history and went on to claim his sixth career victory. This came after he missed turn one completely and took a detour into the tire barrier. Amazingly he was able to come back from being a lap down to pass Kevin Harvick for the victory. While Elliott had the race covered in the final laps, the battle came down to the drivers who were trying to advance to the next round. While Alex Bowman and Ryan Newman were nearly 10 seconds apart on the track, in points it would come down to the final two laps as Newman was a single point to the good and looked to be in the driver's seat to continue his incredible season but after missing the backstretch chicane, Newman was assessed a drive-through penalty that would cost him everything and relegate him back to 32nd. This would provide a clear path for Alex Bowman to capture the 12th and final spot in the round of 12 after he would also bounce back from three accidents to finish second.
Unfortunately for Bowman, this comeback would be overshadowed by what took place on lap 43 when he decided he would intentionally wreck Darrell Wallace Jr exiting the backstretch chicane. Throughout the race, both Wallace and Bowman got together multiple times including on the opening lap. This caused Wallace to repeatedly flip Bowman off out the window and as we could all see, Alex was none to pleased by this gesture. After the race, Darrell met Alex who was slouched over his car being "attended to" by medical staff after a long race and would throw a full bottle of water in his face. This would send NASCAR's twitter into a frenzy. Many fans called for a fine for Wallace and even went as far as calling for him to be suspended. While I don't agree with Wallace's motives and think it was ridiculous to throw water on someone, thinking someone should be suspended for this is extremely stupid. This is coming from a fan-base where most long for the "good ole days" that week after week sit behind their twitter and ask where all the conflict and personality went but then when they finally see it, they want to sit here and complain about how "it wasn't the right time" for Wallace to go and confront Bowman. Was it the right time for Cale Yarborough to hit Bobby Allison in the face with his helmet back in 1979 at Daytona? No but that is what made NASCAR so entertaining and always will.
The favorite coming into this race has to be the guy who won here last and that's Martin Truex Jr. It's safe to anytime they go to Dover, Truex is easily the guy to watch for considering how well he always runs there. As I wrote earlier, the New Jersey native has won at this track three times and has 15 top 10 finishes here over his 27 races he has run. I look for Truex to be a contender come sunday.
The driver that I predict will win on Sunday is Daniel Suarez. While this may seem like a bold prediction to some, this has been a track that he has excelled at ever since his rookie season in 2017. In his five starts here, only once has he finished outside of the top 10 and even then he finished 11th. There has been much speculation as to what is next for Suarez and many wonder if he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season and while It he wasn't able to qualify for the playoffs, he has put together some of the best runs of his career including a fourth place finish at Michigan. I think that Suarez will surprise a lot of people and capture his first career win and erase any doubt that he belongs where he is in the Cup Series.
(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).