Dover Driver Handicaps
September 18, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Here’s a strange statistic. In the last fifteen races Mark Martin has either finished inside the top 10 (ten times) or outside the top 30. (Five times) Mark has won here three times, all in the fall race from 1997-99.
Since Chip Ganassi took over this team, Marlin has a pair of top 10 finishes at Dover last year, and a 13th place result here in June. Prior to that Marlin’s last top 10 here was in 1997 and he’s got only two career top 5 finishes at Dover.
You don’t get a much better batting average than this. Johnson has run one Winston Cup race at Dover and won it. Looks to be a factor.
Stewart’s 11th place finish here in the spring was the first time he finished outside the top 10 in seven Winston Cup starts at Dover. Tony won both races here in 2000. He’s still driving the 20 car right?
Gordon has won four Cup races at Dover including last year’s spring event. Has missed the top 10 at Dover only three times in the last fifteen Cup races run here.
Wallace has three wins at Dover, most recently the series sweep back in 1998, but hasn’t had a top ten finish in his last three outings here.
Elliott has four career wins at Dover, but the most recent of them occurred in 1990 back when the other George Bush was still in the White House. Bill hadn’t had a top 5 finish at Dover until his strong second place finish here this spring which was the springboard to his Pocono and Indy wins.
That other rookie didn’t do too bad in his first Cup start at Dover either, finishing fourth despite needing a provisional just to make the race. Imagine what he could do with a better starting spot.
Rudd also has four wins here with the most recent occurring back in 1997. His nineteenth place finish here this spring was the first time Rudd missed a top ten at Dover since joining Robert Yates, but now that that pairing has hit the skids I don’t give his chances a plugged nickel.
Kenseth made his first ever Winston Cup start here in for Bill Elliott whose father died the night before the race. Matt finished 6th that day. In his first four Cup runs at Dover Kenseth never finished worse than 12th but he hasn’t done as well here lately. His fortieth place finish in the spring was his worst ever here.
His twelfth place finish here this spring was far and away Busch’s best career Cup finish here. (The other two resulted in 39th and 41st place finishes.)
His twelfth place finish in this race last year was one of only three of the last twelve Dover Cup races DJ missed finishing in the top 10. Eight of those finishes were inside the top 5. Won here in 1998.
Like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, at Dover when Burton is good, he’s very very good, but when he is bad he sucks. Usually finishes inside the top 10 or outside the top 30. (Yeah, I had some pretty hard core nursery rhyme books growing up. Wanna hear what the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker were doing in my copy?)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt won this race last year and has two additional top 10 finishes in five Winston Cup starts at Dover. Also did very well here in a Busch car including his dramatic “Spin but Win” victory.
They’ve printed Waltrip’s picture on milk cartons in the Dover area, because the last time anyone here saw him running up front was back in 1997.
Craven had struggled here earlier in his career, but has top 10 finishes in top of the last three Cup races at Dover including a seventh place result here in June.
Wow. The thrill is gone. After missing the top 5 at Dover only once in ten straight races, Labonte has missed the top ten in the last three Cup events at the Monster Mile. Won here in 1999.
Green won the fall Busch race at Dover last year, but finished 38th here in the Cup race this spring.
Can’t buy a thrill. Three Cup starts at Dover with a best result of 29th. Any major dude will tell you that won’t get it done.
While Gordon finished eighth here in the spring, previous races at Dover have seemed to indicate Gordon checks his common sense at the Maryland border crossing en route to this joint.