An exciting finish to the end of last week’s Bank of America Roval 400 left mouths open and drivers out in the cold. Ryan Blaney swooped in from 3rd place after leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson tangled on the final set of turns; that transaction would knock Johnson out of the Playoffs. We’re into the Round of 12, a lunchtime date with “The Monster Mile,” and it’s feeding time.
Here’s what to look for:
–Qualifying was rained out, and by virtue of points Kyle Busch will start from Pole. A broken drivetrain relegated him to a 35th place finish in the Spring, but he’s the defending winner of the Fall race. Rowdy snaked the lead from Chase Elliott with two to go in last year’s Apache Warrior 400, and he’ll look to defend that title today from the best launchpad in the field.
—Kevin Harvick starts alongside the #18, and would you believe that he’s the defending winner from this Spring? The last two winners of Dover Cup races starting side-by-side on the front row. You can’t make this stuff up.
—Clint Bowyer ran runner-up in the Spring after starting 12th. This is a track where you generally need to start in the Top 10 to have a legitimate shot at a victory. It seems funny and a spot or two shouldn’t matter, but of the Top 8 earlier this year, seven of them started from the Top 10. Bowyer will have a better view this time around, rolling off 5th.
—Daniel Suarez was one of the drivers we highlighted in the Spring, and he brought home a 7th place finish. This is one of his best tracks, carrying a 5.7 average finish. He’s gone 3-5-7, bank on a 9th or better this time around.
—Jimmie Johnson was another driver we touched on, and he’s still a favorite despite everything that has happened recently. A 9.1 average finish at Dover, and 11 Wins (you read that right). We haven’t seen the pressure of a championship off of his shoulders in quite some time, it’ll be interesting to see how he responds. Good news, we don’t have to wait long to find out. If Johnson is going to win before season’s end, this is it.
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 2:00pm, green flag scheduled for 2:17pm.