Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Previewing the Drydene 311 Doubleheader at Dover

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

The Monster Mile. Bristol on steroids.

No matter the nickname, Dover International Speedway lives up to the hype as being one of the most physically demanding racetracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit and plays host to yet another doubleheader weekend that has found it’s way onto the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally scheduled for two separate races in May and August, the two events will now take place in two 311-lap events on Saturday and Sunday to make up two of the final three races in the regular season – both of which will be called the Drydene 311.

One of the only two concrete tracks currently in use by NASCAR’s top division, drivers have likened a lap around the one-mile oval to riding a rollercoaster, as they drop off the straightaways into the turns before rocketing back uphill on corner exit. By the time the checkered flag flies, it’s as if you have just been through a boxing match with Mike Tyson.

Six places remain up for grabs in the Playoffs, with a few drivers currently on the outside looking in still within striking distance to make it in on points and the rest of the field looking to win their way in.

Needless to say, the doubleheader at Dover is going to a “monstrous” weekend and will go a long way in settling the fates of the drivers that have yet to lock themselves into the Playoffs.

By the Numbers

What: Drydene 311, NASCAR Cup Series Race No. 24/25 of 36

Where: Dover International Speedway – Dover, Delaware (First race: 1969)

When: Saturday, August 22/Sunday, August 23

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network, 4:00 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size: 1.0-mile concrete oval

Banking: 24 degrees in turns, nine degrees on straightaways

Race Length: 311 laps, 311 miles

Stage Lengths: First stage: 70 laps; Second stage: 115 laps; Final Stage: 126 laps

May 2019 Race Winner: Martin Truex, Jr. – No. 19 Toyota (Started 13th, 132 laps led)

October 2019 Race Winner: Kyle Larson – No. 42 Chevrolet (Started second, 154 laps led)

Track Qualifying Record: Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford (21.892 seconds, 164.444 mph – 06/01/2014)

Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Dover:

  1. Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet – 112.9
  2. Matt Kenseth – No. 42 Chevrolet – 105.8
  3. Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – 104.3
  4. Martin Truex, Jr. – No. 19 Toyota – 99.8
  5. Chase Elliott – No. 9 Chevrolet – 98.2
  6. Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford – 96.6
  7. Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford – 92.4
  8. Clint Bowyer – No. 14 Ford – 89.8
  9. Kurt Busch – No. 1 Chevrolet – 89.4
  10. Daniel Suarez – No. 96 Toyota – 87.5

From the Driver’s Seat

“This is a fun racetrack,” said Clint Bowyer. “This is a challenging racetrack, a very competitive racetrack, one of the most competitive and challenging tracks I think we go to. The balance of your car is just so important, balancing those front tires to the rear. You’ve got to enjoy places like this. If you don’t, it’s a long day. Dover is always a cool track that I think every driver looks forward to because it’s a driver’s track. You’ve got to man up, get on top of that wheel and make things happen. There are just so many things going on there on that concrete surface and high banks. It’s a lot of fun. If you win there, you’ve earned it.

“I’m telling you, this is one of the toughest tracks. Here’s the thing about this track – it’s hard enough to get around there by yourself, then you get to racing somebody and now you get frustrated and it’s so easy to get yourself in trouble on that racetrack. That being said, I think younger drivers get themselves in trouble in racing conditions on this demanding racetrack.”

Last Time at Dover

For the first time in over two years, Kyle Larson was able to park his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Dover last October and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Denny Hamlin may have led the most laps after starting from the pole, but when it mattered most, Larson turned it up a notch, taking over the lead on lap 244 and holding steady at the front of the field for all but six of the final 157 laps en route to the win.

After notching his sixth career Cup Series win, Larson was able to move on to the third round of the Playoffs for the first time in his career.

“What a day! This Clover Chevy was really good,” Larson said. “After the first stage, I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like we made the car better at the same time. And, they really benefitted our long runs. That’s as good as I’ve ever been around, cutting the bottom, here. So, it was just a great combination here.

“To be fast in practice and then be good in the race and you get the win. I can’t thank all you fans enough for coming out. This cool weather was nice for a change. This is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a ‘Golden Monster’ (trophy) is pretty sweet.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.