Dover Rear View Mirror

Brad Keselowski

"Sunday’s performance should once and for all quiet any doubters who don’t believe Keselowski is a legitimate title contender."


Dover International Speedway is about as “old school” NASCAR as it comes. But in a way the venerable Delaware track is a trendsetter.

While the "Monster Mile" has always been a tough challenge and different from most other tracks on the circuit, that's not the only attribute that made Dover standout.

The adjoining hotel and casino complex made Dover even more special and provided fans with an entertainment destination in addition to the weekend of racing.

That now seems to be the wave of the future.

More and more we're seeing tracks develop other types of entertainment to enhance the experience of attending a race weekend. Luxury hotels, casinos, water parks, museums, restaurants and even minor league baseball stadiums are sprouting up in very close proximity to several speedways.

Kansas, which is the template for this line of thinking with its vast array of entertainment options right on its doorstep has added a luxury hotel-casino complex. There is talk others might follow suit including New Hampshire.

While I believe it's a wise business move and understand the thought process behind the trend, I hope we don’t lose sight of what should be first and foremost - the actual on track product.

If the racing isn't good fans won't buy a ticket and any other attractions in the area won't change that factor.

Having more options for fans and families to plan vacations around a race weekend is wise in a lot of ways. With dollars in short supply for many, tying together a trip to a NASCAR weekend with a vacation of other nearby attractions might generate more ticket sales.

But if the things to do in the area are more exciting and entertaining than the race, there will be a lot of empty seats in these facilities.

Sunday’s race at Dover provided an intriguing ending with fuel mileage determining the winner. However, I’m not sure that’s the “water cooler” race the Chase desperately needs right now.

  • The pre-race hype was the battle between Jimmie Johnson, who has owned Dover in recent years, and Denny Hamlin, who readily admits his disdain for the track. At the end of the day the story turned out to be Brad Keselowski – again. The Penske Racing driver scored his fifth win of the year and took back the Chase point lead in the process. Sunday’s performance should once and for all quiet any doubters who don’t believe Keselowski is a legitimate title contender.
  • Hamlin had fuel mileage take a bite out of his run for the 2010 Sprint Cup championship. He ran short again at Dover and lost a great deal of the momentum and confidence he brought into the weekend after his effort in New Hampshire a week ago. It will be very interesting indeed to see how the Joe Gibbs Racing driver rebounds from this turn of events.
  • Sure it’s only three races but it’s hard to see how some drivers will be able to bounce back from miserable starts to the playoffs. Matt Kenseth’s woes continued on Sunday when he had a track bar break and then endured a trip into the inside wall a few laps later. Last year’s champ Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle also had rough days at Dover and even Jeff Gordon, who has had two straight solid performances since his Chicagoland Chase opener crash, couldn’t gain much on the leaders.
  • I spent my weekend in Las Vegas as part of the Motor Racing Network broadcast team for Saturday night’s Camping World Truck Series Smith’s 350. The race turned out to be yet another thriller from the Truck Series with a last lap pass by Nelson Piquet Jr. around Matt Crafton for the win. While the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series cars aren’t able to put on much of a show at mile-and-a-half tracks, the trucks don’t seem to have any problem with Vegas the latest example.

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