Known as the "Monster Mile", the one-mile concrete oval Dover International Speedway hosted its first Cup race in 1969. Two years later, the NASCAR races were extended to 500 miles and continued up until 1993 when its present 400-mile format was established.
Engine failures were common in the 500-mile races. Since the track has banked straightaways as well as the turns, rpm's stay at a high level throughout the lap. Dover has 24-degree banking in the turns and 9-degree banking on the 1,076-foot frontstretch and backstretch.
The Nationwide Series joined Cup racing at Dover in 1982 giving the facility a larger weekend crowd. This, in turn, triggered grandstand expansions which continued for 16 consecutive seasons.
During the mid-1990's the facility made some dramatic improvements. For the fans, after Delaware passed a law allowing them to exist at horse racing facilities, Dover Downs installed several slot machines. For the drivers, the asphalt track was ripped up and replaced by a concrete surface. This made for a faster, smoother and more competitive race.
The Indy Racing League began running at Dover in 1998. Tony Stewart, in an open-wheel car, set a track record of over 185 mph around the 1-mile oval. Two years later, Kurt Busch won the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race (from the pole).
First Cup race
David Pearson put the Holman-Moody No. 17 Ford on the pole with a qualifying lap of 130.43 mph to lead the 32 car field for the 1969 Mason-Dixon 300. He led 26 of the 300 lap event but wrecked after 65 laps and finished 23rd. The Petty Enterprises No. 43 Ford, driven by Richard Petty, rolled off 3rd at the start, led 150 laps and finished 6 laps ahead of 2nd place, Sonny Hutchins and his No. 90 Ford. Petty earned $4,725 for the victory.
As fantasy players, your team budget won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. There were 46 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. The 43 drivers who qualify will be competing in front of about 135,000 fans in the grandstands. Here are our picks for Sunday's Camping World RV 400 in Dover, Delaware.
Mark Martin and favorite, Jeff Gordon, are the only two drivers in the lineup this weekend with four Cup wins at the Monster Mile. Martin leads all active drivers with 20 top fives. He averaged a 7.4 finish in the last nine Cup races at this track. Martin has scored more championship driver points in the last nine Dover Cup races than any other driver. So far this season, he has averaged a 13.4 finish for his limited Cup schedule (18 out of 27 races). We've said it before, grab Martin whenever he's in the lineup for your fourth or fifth driver.
Dover ranks as Jamie McMurray's second best track (behind Texas). He averages a 15.3 start and a 14.4 finish at the DIS. McMurray averages a 15.3 starting position and a 14.4 finishing position at the 'Monster Mile'. He has recorded one top-five and five top-10 finishes and of the 4004 laps run at Dover, McMurray has completed 4386 laps (99.6%). His last two finishes here were an 8th, last September and a 10th in June. He'll be getting some extra seat-time this week with an entry in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday.
Ryan Newman may be winding down at Penske but he's still competitive and it's a good week to put him on your roster. He has three Cup victories at Dover in thirteen starts. He was one of about a dozen cars caught up in the late-race carnage last September at this track; skewing his average finish to a 10.3. Newman has started outside of the top 5 in only 3 of his 13 starts. He has four Dover Cup poles. In fact, Newman's average start of 7.5 at the Monster Mile leads all active drivers.
Casey Mears is our deepest pick this week. He does well at the intermediate tracks (between one and two miles). His first career win came at Lowe's (1.5 miles) and he's earned seven of his 12 career top-five finishes on these type tracks. Mears also has scored 70 percent of his career laps led (251 of 354 laps) on intermediate tracks. Last September in this race, he posted his best Dover finish of sixth and crossed the line in 17th here in June.