All of NASCAR’s national series are prepared for tight and robust competition during the perennial popular Dover International Speedway tripleheader weekend.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headlines the stop with Sunday’s Gander RV 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after a dramatic race at Talladega Superspeedway a week ago.
The competitive mindset shifts from the sport’s largest venue at Talladega to Dover’s notoriously tough “Monster Mile” where the track’s all-time winningest driver Jimmie Johnson is hoping to return to Victory Lane for a 12th trophy – in what would be his first series victory since the spring of 2017 at Dover.
“I’ve had Dover circled on the calendar for a while,” Johnson conceded. “It’s going to be different – lots of throttle and probably more like the 2015 rules package that we had there.
“I’ve loved that place since I raced in the ASA Series. I’ve always run well there, so I’m excited to get there. Last time we had a freak mechanical issue before we even started the race and didn’t have a chance to get into the mix.”
No one has been statistically better than Johnson at Dover. His 11-win tally is one of the best efforts in the sport’s modern era – the most wins at a one track since Darrell Waltrip scored a 12th victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1972.
The 43-year old California native Johnson has led the most laps (3,105) in history at the track and heading into this weekend’s 400-miler, he boasts a 10.9 average finish and 9.9 average start at Dover – incredible statistics for someone with 34 starts.
Johnson’s first-year Monster Energy Series crew chief Kevin Meendering has five top-10 finishes in six NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in that role and is ready to restore Johnson’s prolific streak of success.
The two-year lag in trophies is the longest in Johnson’s seven-championship career and 2018 marked the first time he has gone an entire calendar year without a victory in 18 fulltime Cup seasons.
Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has four top-10s through the opening 10 races of the season but comes to Dover after a disappointing 33rd-place showing at Talladega where he blew a right front tire after running over debris only 26 laps into the 188-lapper. The finish dropped him from 13th to 16th in the standings.
But the rough last outing has not dampened Johnson’s enthusiasm, confidence or hopes when it comes to competing at Dover International Speedway.
“It’s the site of so many good memories for me, I can’t wait,” Johnson said.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!