5 Questions Before ... Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes

From “Too Tough to Tame” to the “Monster Mile”, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will go from one tough racetrack to another. Dover International Speedway has a 46 ft. tall structure of their mascot “Miles the Monster” to represent how challenging this 24 degree banked track really is. After Jimmie Johnson swept both of the Dover races here last season, his competitors will be looking to unseat the defending four time champion in the Autism Speaks 400.

Here are some questions heading into the weekend:

Will Joe Gibbs Racing continue to outshine the competition? … With Jimmie Johnson struggling to finish races and Jeff Gordon having the same luck winning races that Jennifer Aniston does with relationships, Joe Gibbs Racing is now the team to beat in Cup competition. Winning three of the last six races, JGR’s biggest threat for the win at Dover is Kyle Busch. In 10 starts, Busch has one win, and five top-5s. However, in his last three races at Dover his best finish is 23rd. If he can shake off his recent slump at this track, we may see Busch in Victory Lane on Sunday.

How will Casey Mears do subbing for Brian Vickers? … It was announced today that Vickers will be out of the car on Sunday after being hospitalized for a “medical condition.” Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with Vickers, but now the focus turns to how well Mears will do subbing for Vickers. Mears, who has bounced from team to team in the last several years, has some solid statistics at Dover. He has an average finish inside the top 20 and has completed 96% of the laps he has run there. He even finished 9th in this race last season. While I’m sure all of us hope to see Vickers back on the track soon, Mears is a solid choice for this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway.

Will we see any All-Star hopefuls make one last shot at getting in? … Names like Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, and Juan Pablo Montoya are on the outside looking in heading into the All-Star race. With Dover the last race on the schedule before the All-Star race, this is a last chance effort for drivers to race their way in. Biffle seems to have the best shot of all drivers, with two wins, six top 5s, nine top 10s, one pole, and an average finish of 11th in 15 starts at Dover. However, every driver fighting to get into the All-Star race will be gunning it on Sunday and no one is out of this yet.

Will “the horseshoe” make a comeback this weekend? … Johnson has struggled the last few weeks but has spectacular results at Dover. It would be a great track for the No. 48 driver to regain some of the points he’s lost the last few weeks. Plus, the fact the he’s been so un-lucky the past few weeks in getting caught up in other people’s messes has been surprising as well. But what would be even less surprising is if he rebounded by leading the most laps and winning the race on Sunday. With teammate Jeff Gordon hot on his heels, though, it may not be as easy as one might think.

Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue to rebound this weekend? … After Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lackluster day at Richmond a couple weeks ago, the driver of the No. 88 gained a spot in the standings with a strong run at Darlington. Now in the top 12 in points, Earnhardt can continue climbing back up to where he had been running up until Richmond (he was in 7th after Texas). It would not only please the driver and team of the No. 88, but also the Jr. Nation crowd that loudly and openly pulls for their beloved “Junebug.”

Bonus questions: How many times will we see the Joey Logano wreck from the fall Dover weekend played this week? … Does David Reutimann still “love love”? … How many debris cautions at the “Monster Mile”?

Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
5 Questions Before ... Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes 5 Questions Before ... Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Thursday, May 13, 2010 Rating: 5