After 500 miles around the biggest and fastest track in stock car racing last weekend at Talladega, another menacing racetrack awaits the drivers of the NASCAR Cup Series. This time, it’s an outright monster — a mile-long, high-banked concrete behemoth that punishes equipment and loves nothing more than to chew up car and driver alike.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to The Monster Mile for the 11th race of the 2022 season, the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway. One of the most notorious tracks on the schedule, Dover has long been known to be a physically and mentally taxing racetrack. With nine degrees of banking on the straightaways and 24 degrees in the turns, Dover keeps a driver on-edge lap after lap, as one mistake could mean satisfying Miles the Monster’s appetite for carnage.
How to watch the NASCAR Cup Series at Dover
Date: Sunday, May 1
Location: Dover Motor Speedway — Dover, Delaware
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch
- With 10 races now in the books, many have begun to watch the win totals after Ross Chastain became the second repeat winner of the season last week at Talladega. Less heralded has been the regular season championship points standings, where Chase Elliott has begun to put a gap on the competition.
Elliott currently leads the points standings by 21 over Ryan Blaney, a gap that he has built through an exceptional level of consistency through the early portion of the season. Through 10 races, Elliott has seven top 10 finishes, only one finish worse than 14th, and no finishes outside the top 15 since Fontana in February.
What’s missing for the 2020 Cup Series champion, though, is a victory. Elliott is currently the only Hendrick Motorsports driver who hasn’t visited Victory Lane this season, and he has not won a Cup race since last July at Road America. Dover presents a good opportunity for Elliott to get his first win of 2022, as he has previously won at The Monster Mile in the fall of 2018.
- Three out of four Hendrick drivers winning this season underscores one of the principal trends of Dover. Dating back to 2013, Dover’s Victory Lane have been dominated by three different race teams, Hendrick Motorsports leads the way with seven victories, Joe Gibbs Racing has won five times, and Stewart-Haas Racing has four victories.
Given that, Dover presents a major litmus test of just how much the Next Gen car has altered the competitive balance of the Cup Series. While Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with four wins this season, the traditional pecking order at the front of the field has been disrupted by upstart Trackhouse Racing, which tied Joe Gibbs Racing last week for the second-most wins of any team this season. Team Penske and Stewart-Haas have also visited Victory Lane, while organizations such as Richard Childress Racing, RFK Racing, and 23XI Racing have contended for wins.
- As mentioned earlier, Chase Elliott is looking to break into the win column for the first time this season. But he isn’t the only contender who is still looking for his first win of the season.
Ryan Blaney, who currently sits second in the standings, is among a list of notables alongside Elliott who have yet to win a race this season. That list includes a number of Cup veterans, such as Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Tyler Reddick, who has missed out on his first Cup win in multiple heartbreakers already this year, has also yet to score a victory. And of the 16 different drivers who won a race last season, 11 still have not earned their first win of 2022.
While drivers who have won at Dover in the past tend to win there again, there is precedent to suggest that this track can serve as the site for certain drivers to get back into the winner’s circle. The last driver to snap a winless streak at Dover was Kyle Larson, who ended a winless streak that had lasted over two years with a victory in 2019. The last time Dover saw a first-time winner was the spring of 2007, when Martin Truex Jr. claimed his first Cup win.
Pick to win
(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
Alex Bowman (+1000): Something important to remember about Dover is that because it has a concrete surface, the track generally does not age dramatically or change characteristics from year-to-year. So, in principle, drivers who gain a feel for Dover and teams that hit the setup at Dover tend to contend for wins at this track year after year — as evidenced by Jimmie Johnson winning 12 times at this track.
Even before he joined Hendrick Motorsports full-time, Alex Bowman always exhibited a feel for Dover. And from 2019 onwards, Bowman has had three top five finishes at Dover to go with his victory in this race last year. While the Next Gen car changes things in regards to teams’ setups and figuring out what makes The Monster Mile tick, the odds are good that Alex Bowman can make it back-to-back wins at this track.