Dover Story Lines
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 29, 2013 | 9:05 A.M. EST
Martin Truex Jr. scored his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Dover in 2007. (Photo: Getty Images)
DOVER, Del. - Finally, something has gone right for Martin Truex Jr. He found out this week that the bones in his wrist are healing and he’s not expected to need offseason surgery.
“It’s great news after all the bad news I’ve gotten here lately,’’ Truex said.
He’ll still wear a cast for today’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway and expects to wear a brace the rest of the season once the cast is removed.
This might be the best time for Truex, who starts 10th, to come to his home track. When things are darkest, one can always go home. Or in Truex’s case his home track.
To score his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory - and second at Dover - he’ll have to beat the top three Chase contenders. Points leader Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson have been dominant at this 1-mile track.
Johnson has led at least 140 laps in eight of the last nine Dover races, winning four of those events. Busch has six top-10 finishes in the last seven Dover races, including a win. Kenseth has three top-10s in the last five Dover races, including a win.
Greg Biffle said earlier this week that anyone who thought this was a three-man race “was stupid.’’ It’s time to prove for him or someone else to prove it.
For Truex, who lost his Chase spot after NASCAR’s penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the Richmond finish, his goals are more immediate. He’s looking for wins - and for a job. Truex said he had nothing new to add on his future.
“The picture has cleared up this much,’’ Truex said putting his finger and thumb a centimeter apart. “There’s still a lot I don’t know. I’ve just got to try to figure it out.’’
And figure out how to beat the law firm of Kenseth, Busch and Johnson. That will be a difficult task for any driver, but that’s just among the storylines for today’s race.
The defending series champion last won a Cup race a year ago here. Could history repeat? He’s finished in the top five in each of the past two Dover races. He also was the fastest in Saturday’s final practice session.
Maybe this will be his day. He’s been fast all year but hasn’t had the breaks go his way as they did a year ago.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
His title chances were all but finished before the first Chase race ended. Now, it’s about trying to get to Victory Lane. He’s winless in his last 47 starts.
He starts from the pole. He’s got a good car. Now is the time to show he and crew chief Steve Letarate can make it good enough to win.
It is tight and with a 35-mph speed limit, it is easy to get caught speeding. The biggest issue, though, could be getting on to pit road. The entrance is among the trickiest in the series. It seems someone misses the entrance about every race. If it’s a Chase driver, it could have quite an impact on the standings.
Kurt Busch’s Pit Crew
The group’s deficiencies have been spotlighted with Busch leading this team to the Chase. In a move that likely comes too late, he’ll have four new pit crew members Sunday - jackman, rear tire carrier, rear tire changer and front tire carrier. All four come from Richard Childress Racing’s Nationwide program.
They’re aren’t going to be fast enough to beat the pit crews of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson regularly, but Busch just needs to have a crew that at least sends him out in the same position as he entered pit road.
Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Sunday’s AAA 400 beginning at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.