5 Questions before Dover

I’m thrilled to bring you live coverage from the Monster Mile this weekend. There’s something about Dover International Speedway that stirs my imagination. Maybe it’s the massive stone monument of Miles staring down at passing fans with his fierce red eyes. Or perhaps it’s the Monster Bridge® reaching across the track, giving lucky fans a bird’s eye view of the race. Either way, gearing up for race weekend brings up lots of questions.

With a storm moving up the east coast, will we see showers at the concrete oval this weekend?
In 2011, both Sprint Cup races at Dover had iffy weather with at least one caution for rain. It was only a few laps each time – one caution for six laps in the spring race and two cautions for a total of ten laps in the fall race. But just the uncertainty of the possible precipitation plays tricks on a driver’s mind, almost like wondering if there’s a monster under the bed.

Is Dover becoming another “house of Jimmie?”
Jimmie Johnson won three of the last six races at DIS. For two of those wins, he started on the pole. Those wins were fairly dominant runs where he led the most laps, too - 298, 271 and 191 laps. Coming off his recent All-Star victory and 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson may have the momentum to master the monster again.

Will either Carl Edwards or Jeff Burton hit a home run?
Edwards and Burton faced off as the team captains of the Dover vs. Pocono Celebrity Softball Game earlier this month. Edwards and team Dover started strong, with a 6-0 lead in the first few innings. But team Pocono reportedly resorted to tricky tactics, bringing in players from the local baseball team to pinch hit for them. In the end, team Pocono won the softball game by a score of 9-8. After his team’s loss, will Edwards want to settle the score with Burton? To date, each driver has one Cup win at the Monster Mile.

Will Miles the Monster take a bite out of any competitors this year?
For over 40 years, Dover International Speedway has hosted stock car races. The concrete surface with big time banking has a reputation for being brutal on equipment such as brakes and tires, making single car spins and wall contact commonplace. It’s not Talladega, but sometimes there are big wrecks, like in the fall 2009 race where six wrecks damaged 15 cars. One thing is for sure: there will be fast, close racing and unfortunately, someone will probably suffer a scratchy monster bite.

Will tire strategy play a role in who makes it to Victory Lane?
In last year’s spring race at Dover, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards looked strong until a late caution changed everyone’s mindset. Some teams pitted for four tires, some for two and others just took a splash of fuel. Strangely enough, although Johnson and Edwards took four, Matt Kenseth gambled on a two-tire stop and ended up winning the race. Why didn’t the guys with four fresh tires pilot to the front and pass those with only two? Hard to say. Miles probably knows, but he isn’t talking.

Coming to Dover this weekend? Check out these cool videos called the Monster Mile Crash Course. They explain everything you need to know to prepare for your race experience. 

Beth Bence Reinke writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her Skirts and Scuffs column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow Beth on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@SkirtsandScuffs.com
5 Questions before Dover 5 Questions before Dover Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 Rating: 5