Last week, Chase Elliott and the Bowtie Brigade broke the stranglehold that Ford had on Talladega for the last seven races. It was the first Win of the season for Chevrolet, and when asked to what we attribute this, the answer invariably came back “teamwork!” Corporate had a little sit-down with their drivers prior to that race, and it could be a turning of the corner for Chevy in 2019. Next up: the Monster Mile.
Here’s what to look for:
–Chase Elliott is our most recent winner in the Cup Series, getting Chevy their first Win of 2019. Can he make it two in a row for them? He’s got darn good numbers here, best of the bunch, a 4.3 average finish since 2016. Five of those runs are Top 5s, the outlier being a 12th here last Spring. Did we mention that he rebounded with a Win here last Fall? It’s true! Also, “old school” single-car Qualifying has returned; the “sit on Pit Road and do nothing for five minutes” group format is no more. Elliott was the first to reap the rewards — and with a new track record as well, 165.960 mph. The #9 rolls off from P1 on Sunday.
–William Byron will start alongside his Hendrick Motorsports teammate at a track which favors a solid starting position. It sounds like common sense, but the mechanics and raceflow of Dover seem to amplify that notion. His previous finishes are 14th and 19th, but he started 17th and 22nd in those races respectively. With a much better launch point, a Top 10 for Byron in the Concrete Canyon shouldn’t be out of the question.
–Martin Truex Jr. has two wins here almost ten years apart. He first broke through way back in the Spring of 2007, and was last seen here with a trophy in the Fall of 2016. It’s gotta be pretty strange to have a drought like that, winning and then not winning for so long, but his last ten attempts have been spectacular. He carries a 6.6 average finish over that span with eight Top 10s (and all of his finishes within the Top 15). It should be noted that each of those came on the wheels of the now defunct #78 team; his time before (with Michael Waltrip Racing and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing) is a stark difference, and he’s with a new team this year. Wherein lies the power, driver or team? We catch a glimpse later today.
–Kevin Harvick won this race last year, and had another Dover victory from Fall of ’15. Not his best track (a 14.2 average finish), but his trend over the last ten races here has been a bit better (11.8 with five Top 10s). He went 2-1 in 2015, and 1-6 last year. How will he kick off his 2019 Dover campaign?
–Daniel Suarez might only have four total starts here, but they’ve all been in the Top 10 and shake out to a 6.8 average finish. Statistically his second best track (behind Watkins Glen’s 3.5), the high banks of Dover seem to suit Suarez. He starts 14th which is probably a little worse than he hoped for, but clocked in 6th for Happy Hour.
Coverage of the race starts on FS1 at 2:00pm, green flag scheduled for 2:10pm.