Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 Questions After Dover

The No 48 car on pit road ready to begin the FedEx 400
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
First, let’s revisit our 5 Questions Before Dover. Here are the questions with brief answers:

With a storm moving up the east coast, will we see showers at the concrete oval this weekend? Sprinkles temporarily delayed the truck race on Friday night but the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events ran precipitation-free.

Is Dover becoming another “house of Jimmie?” You bet! With this weekend’s FedEx 400 victory, Johnson has won four of the last seven Sprint Cup races at the Monster Mile. This was his seventh career NSCS victory at Dover, which ties him with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most Cup wins at this track.

Will either Carl Edwards or Jeff Burton hit a home run? Not this time around. Edwards had a tire go down and finished 26th and Burton ended up 22nd after losing an engine.

Will Miles the Monster take a bite out of any competitors this year? Miles got hungry very early in the race this year. A multi-car crash on the backstretch on lap nine damaged 13 cars, eight of which did not complete the race.

Will tire strategy play a role in who makes it to Victory Lane? Pit stops were definitely a factor. The top six finishers of the race made the fewest visits to pit road, only six pit stops each.

Johnson wears the wig from Madagascar 3 in Victory Lane
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
Now the 5 Questions After...

Do laughter and lightheartedness contribute to winning?
Race winner Jimmie Johnson and his crew members had a blast with the rainbow-colored wig. Plus, the No. 48 car’s Madagascar 3 paint scheme, with its bright teal color and zoo animals, was just plain fun. Perhaps the quirky characters on the car gave team and driver an emotional boost that carried over into their race performance. Or maybe Miles was kind to Johnson because he secretly wanted to wear the wig in Victory Lane.

Does Jimmie Johnson have a sixth championship in him?
Johnson’s Dover victory was his 57th career NSCS win and his second win of the 2012 season. Now sitting fifth in the points standings, the driver of the No. 48 has won 15% of the Sprint Cup events he has started (57 of 376.) At age 36, Johnson has lots of seasons left to race, so perhaps his nickname of “Five-time” will change someday.

Will the championship come down to a point again this year?
Coming out of Dover, Greg Biffle leads the standings by a single point over Matt Kenseth in second. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is only 10 points behind the leader in third place. Time will tell how numbers in the Chase line up, but the potential for another close points battle exists.

What happened to Jeff Gordon?
Jeff Gordon had a lightning fast car and led the FedEx 400 three times for a total of 60 laps. Just when it seemed like he was the car to beat, he had to return to pit road for a loose left rear wheel, which put him behind and made for another disappointing day. Gordon finished 13th at Dover and is 21st in the standings.

What is Kurt Busch’s future in the sport?
Whew, that's a tough one to predict, isn't it? What we do know is that the elder Busch earned a suspension for his treatment of reporter Bob Pockrass in a pit road interview. Busch will sit out for the Pocono race and David Reutimann will pilot the No. 51 car instead. For more on this topic, check out this Skirts and Scuffs article.

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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

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