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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Drivers Expecting “Really Fast,” Tough Race at Dover

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Entering the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, NASCAR introduced a new higher-downforce, lower-horsepower competition package. While that would lead many to believe speeds and lap times would decrease as a result, that is not the driver’s expectation ahead of Dover International Speedway this weekend.

“Dover is one of the places I think that we will really, really notice the minimum speed being much faster than what we had with last years rule package,” Aric Almirola said. “The straightaway speed I don’t think will be much different but because of all the downforce on the cars that we have now with this rules package, I think the minimum speed and the mid-corner speed will be so high. It is going to be incredibly fast.”

The reason behind the theory is the corner speeds at Dover are higher than other tracks, due to the 24 degrees of banking allowing drivers to remain in the gas longer than speedways of a longer length overall. Bristol Motor Speedway, which is dubbed a smaller version of the Monster Mile, saw the same theory at play with a new track record set during the second round of qualifying.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

“Next week is going to be a tough race I think,” Martin Truex Jr. commented. “The speeds are going to be really high. I’m sure it will be the fastest we’ve ever been around Dover and you know, 400 laps there is tough no matter what. I think it’s going to be pretty crazy.”

The theory is also used in theory in the NASCAR  Gander Outdoor Truck Series as on several tracks, they are able to hold the throttle wide-open through the corner. Almirola feels it will be a similar experience in qualifying, with “not a lot of off-throttle time” during the event.

Although the allure of speed has caught the attention of many, it could work counter productively in not producing the type of competitive side-by-side racing fans are desiring. 

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do some passing and you know, hopefully the dirty air deals not terrible, but it’s definitely going to be tough,” Truex said. “I think track position will be important, but the speeds it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be demanding. You know Bristol was pretty crazy. I thought it was just how hard you had to drive the car each and every lap and as fast as Dover is, I think feel wise it’s probably the fastest place we go. So it’s going to be an eye opener I think for some guys.”

The increase in corner speed could also present a challenge in relation to the tires, as there is a potential for issues with being faster across the middle of the corner, and more load on them as a result. 

“I think there is potential for that but I believe Goodyear has done a tires test there earlier this year and they had wheel force transducer cars on the track there collecting data,” Almirola said. “That is in their hands. I am not going to speculate on that. I think that there is potential if they are not prepared for it.”



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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.