Dover Race Recap

The Key Moment – Ryan Newman was able to hold off a determined charge by Jeremy Mayfield on the final restart then stretched his fuel mileage to get 106 miles out of a tank of gas.


In a Nutshell – Newman wins one the hard way.


Dramatic Moment-

The battle between Newman and Mayfield over the last 25 laps was vintage style Winston Cup racing.

For much of the race the fans were on their feet as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart battled for the top spots.


What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Is Dale Junior OK? Why is it the 8 team seems to squander a good finish late in the race lately?

Was power restored at your place in time to see the race?

Were the “No Racing to the Caution” and “No Passing to the Left on Pit Road rules successful? (My vote is a resounding yes.)

So when are they going to install the SAFER barriers at Dover? Why didn’t NASCAR red flag the race rather than let the field run 25 laps under caution during lengthy repairs to the turn one wall?

So what happens if the caution flag flies on the last lap of a race? Is there still no passing back to the flag?

Is Jeremy Mayfield going to get a $3500 language fine for his post race comments? Is Goodyear going to call Tony Stewart on the carpet and make Joe Gibbs pay extra for tires again?

Did Robby Gordon run into Jeff Burton on purpose as a payback for Richmond or did Captain Crunch just outrun his talent again?

Think NASCAR is going to check and recheck the size of the fuel cell in the 12 car in post race tech?

Did Brian France stick around for the end of the race?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his team gambled on a two tire pit stop late in the race. To say it didn’t work out is a dramatic understatement. Junior slid back to nineteenth, then hit the wall hard driver’s side flush trying to keep from going a lap down.

Bobby Labonte had a difficult day. He shifted from third to second at the drop of the green flag and got hit by the 15 car. Later in the race he hit the wall and bought out the third caution.

Waltrip’s day was a huge disappointment as well. He damaged the nose of his car hitting Labonte coming to the green and later suffered terminal mechanical meltdown. Waltrip fell out of the top 10 in the points standings for the first time this season.

Mike Skinner managed to spin out without hitting anything (a near impossibility at Dover) but as he tried to get his car going the spinning car of Kenny Schrader came down the track and knocked into the nose of the Army car.

A flat early cost Mark Martin two laps and his 22nd place finish doesn’t reflect how strong the 6 car ran late in the race.

It was a tough weekend for Ricky Craven. He lost an engine in practice and had to start at the rear of the field. He hit debris from the 25 car when Nemechek wrecked to bring out the first caution. And to cap it all off he blew another engine during the race.

Joe Nemechek blew a tire and hit the wall hard enough to peel off the right side sheet metal and set his car ablaze. Ironically he was scheduled to pit on the next lap. On a brighter note, with the new caution flag rules the field slowed and the firemen were able to move with more alacrity than in the past.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Ryan Newman lost almost two laps when he cut down a tire while leading the race, but got one back on the track and the other back as a result of the new caution flag rule. He chose to stay out rather than pit, assumed the lead and ran 106 miles on a tank of gas to score his seventh win of the season.

Matt Kenseth’s car looked like junk all day, but somehow he emerged in the end to bring home yet another top 10 finish.

Jamie McMurray was forced to make an extra pit stop when a crew member’s impact gun broke a valve stem as McMurray was leaving the pits. He rallied back to sixth.

Worth Noting

The win was Ryan Newman’s seventh of the season. (He also has seven poles.) That seven race total matches the next two most winning drivers’ victories combined. (Kurt Busch has four wins and Jimmy Johnson three.) Newman has finished eleventh or better in ten of the last eleven races and has won four of them.

Matt Kenseth continues to lead all drivers with 23 top 10 finishes in 28 races. Ryan Newman now leads all drivers with eleven top 5 finishes. Seven of those finishes are wins.

The top 10 consisted of four Dodges, four Chevys and a pair of Fords. The top finishing Pontiac pilot was Johnny Benson in 21st. All seven of Dodges Winston Cup wins this season have been scored by Ryan Newman.

Jamie McMurray was the top finishing rookie in sixth place. He finished one spot ahead of fellow rookie Greg Biffle.

Jeff Gordon scored his first top 5 finish since the Brickyard.

Jeremy Mayfield has now finished eleventh or better in the last five races. Jimmy Johnson has also finished eleventh or better in those five races.

Jamie McMurray has top 10 finishes in four of the last five races. But Benny Parsons still can’t pronounce his name correctly.

Michael Waltrip has finished outside the top 25 in the last five races.

Rusty Wallace now has three straight top 10 finishes.

Ricky Craven has finished 30th or worse in the last three races.

Kurt Busch hasn’t scored a top 10 finish since he won at Bristol four races ago.

Mark Martin hasn’t had a top 10 finish since Watkins Glen and hasn’t had a top 5 since Pocono in June.

Robby Gordon has finished outside the top 20 in the last five races.


What’s the Points?

Matt Kenseth maintains the top spot in the standings for the 25th straight week. Because of his crash and subsequent 37th place finish Junior tumbles two spots to fourth. (He’d held second spot in the standings for the last eight weeks.) Kevin Harvick advanced a spot to second in the standings and Jimmy Johnson assumes third place.

Also in the top 10 Bobby Labonte and Kurt Busch swap seventh and eighth place with Labonte now having the advantage. Tony Stewart advanced a spot to tenth in the standings knocking Michael Waltrip down a spot to eleventh.

Sunday’s big gainer was Jeremy Mayfield who advanced two spots to 22nd. Ricky Rudd moved up two spots to 21st. In addition to Junior two other drivers lost two spots in the standings. Ward Burton dropped to 23rd and Ricky Craven to 24th.

Matt Kenseth’s magic number is now 10. (If Matt finishes tenth or better in the last eight races he’ll be the 2003 champion even if Harvick wins the next eight races and leads the most laps in each event.)

All drivers from 19th place Greg Biffle back are now mathematically eliminated from this years title chances barring an injury to Matt Kenseth.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) I’ll give this one five and a half bottles of Corona in a bucket of ice served beachside in Tortula. It probably only deserves five bottles but the race gets an extra half-a-brew because Dover wasn’t under water and blacked out on race day which would have forced the race to be run in November.

Next Up – Fear Factor has nothing on 200 laps of restrictor plate racing at Talladega. Sooner or later, it’s a stone cold fact, 43 drivers roll out and only 42 come back.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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