Sunday, June 3, 2012

Drivers "dish" about Dover

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. enters pit road during
Sprint Cup practice on Friday at Dover.
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
“This place will chew cars up and spit them out.”  Carl Edwards, a.k.a. “Concrete Carl”

It’s nicknamed the Monster Mile for good reason – it can be scary. Even the most talented, seasoned drivers have a healthy respect for the nuances of the track. When they describe the concrete oval with wicked banking and twisting turns, it almost sounds like a rollercoaster ride.

Sprint Cup drivers shared some track talk about Dover International Speedway this weekend:

Martin Truex Jr.: "This place is very, very unforgiving. If you don’t get into the corner just right, the rest of the corner it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. The biggest challenge here is just the transition from the straightaway to the corner where the car really takes a hard set in landing into the banking."

Jeff Gordon: "There is just no comparing this place. It is just unlike any other track you will ever go to. I ran some very high-banked fast race tracks in the midgets and spring cars prior to coming into NASCAR. Even those tracks don’t really prepare you for how you drop into the banking here. It is a very unique place."

Mike Bliss during Cup practice
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
Denny Hamlin: "This track is very sensitive to feel in the sense that it’s a fast track that you miss your mark on entry by a little bit and it changes your feel of the car entirely."

Kasey Kahne: "I think it’s tough. The concrete is part of it and then just the high speeds, and there’s some roughness to the track, as well. The entries are really tricky and then keeping your car to rotate in the center and you get down on the white line again on the second apex to the corners … So to me, it’s just a tricky track."

Carl Edwards: "This is one of the most difficult race tracks to keep up with, with the way the rubber builds up and it is a tough track. Pit stalls are huge here because pit road is very tough. The pit stalls are small and getting a good one is of huge importance."

Jimmie Johnson: "It’s not a very comfortable lap with the elevation change that you have from the straightaway to the corner. So you deal with it getting into the turn and you climb that hill coming back out."

David Reutimann takes the No. 10
car for a few practice laps
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: "It’s a unique track and it is pretty fun. I like the banking and the speed. I love the shape of the track. It’s a real challenge with the concrete, the concrete dust, the track rubbers up and then with the way concrete works when we go out there we rubber the track down and when the caution comes out we pick it all back up. So the track never really rubbers in really good and it kind of changes the whole race."

Matt Kenseth: "It is one of those tracks that is not only challenging to race other cars and figure out how to pass them, but it always challenges you every single lap, even when you are by yourself. It is one of those tracks you can’t let your guard down. You really have to focus and concentrate and pay attention to be able to get fat laps around here all the time. It is one of the more challenging tracks I feel like and that is what makes it so fun."

Tony Stewart: "It’s always feel. This track you spend probably two-thirds of a lap in the corner. You’ve got to get the car to get through the bumps. You’ve got to get it through three distinct parts of the corner here. I mean, the entry (the way it lands in the corner,) the way it gets of the corner, then the way it rotates through the center. You’ve got to get all three of those to work right."

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


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