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Chase drivers take 13 of the top 17 spots in opening Cup practice RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Sprint Cup Series opening practice " Results Kevin Harvick topped the opening 80-minute Sprint Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway with a speed of 163.852 mph. Right behind Harvick was Brad Keselowski with a speed of 163.726 mph. Harvick has a solid hold on advancing to the Contender Round, while Keselowski's win at Chicagoland Speedway automatically moved the current points leader to the next round. Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers took 13 of the top 17 spots in practice. Jeff Gordon placed third in the session (163.562 mph) as he looks to improve this weekend on his seventh-place position in the standings. Jimmie Johnson, a nine-time winner at Dover International Speedway , was fifth in the session (163.369 mph) and is currently fourth in the standings. Denny Hamlin (163.354 mph) and Kurt Busch (163.162 mph), two drivers currently on the outside looking in of moving on to the Contender Round, placed sixth and seventh in the session, respectively. Hamlin enters the Dover race six points out of the final spot, while Busch is eight points out. A win by either driver would advance them to the next round of the Chase. Joey Logano (162.815 mph) was ninth in the session. He is automatically in the Contender Round due to his win last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Matt Kenseth (162.690 mph) placed 10th in the session. He is eighth in the standings but his hold on a spot to advance is tenuous as just 12 points separate the drivers that eighth and 16th in the standings Marcos Ambrose (fourth at 163.436 mph) was one of two non-Chase drivers to place in the top 10 of the session. Clint Bowyer (eighth at 163.014 mph), who has Jeff Burton on standby should his wife give birth to their first child this weekend, was the other. Kyle Busch was 11th in the session (162.616 mph) and he is in good shape to advance to the Contender Round as he is in fifth place in the standings. Carl Edwards (13th at 162.536 mph), Aric Almirola (14th at 162.470 mph), Ryan Newman (16th at 162.360 mph), Greg Biffle (17th at 162.162 mph) and Kasey Kahne (22nd at 161.761 mph) are in the log jam between eighth and 16 in the standings. They need strong showings at Dover to advance. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is in sixth place in the standings, placed 24th in practice (161.565). Chase underdog AJ Allmendinger finished the lowest among the Chase drivers, in 25th, with a speed of 161.493 mph. He is currently in 10th place in the standings. There was one caution in the practice for some fluid on track from the No. 40 car of Landon Cassill after an apparent blown engine. There will be two 50-minute Sprint Cup Series practice sessions on Saturday. The first is at 11 a.m. ET and will be televised on FOX Sports 1. The second is at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on FOX Sports 2. Nationwide Series final practice " Results Chris Buescher topped the final practice for the Nationwide Series at Dover International Speedway . After placing 11th in the opening session, Buescher topped the charts with a speed of 154.825 mph in the final 80-minute session. Richard Childress Racing flexed its Nationwide program muscle once again with all four of its cars placing in the top eight of practice. Brendan Gaughan was second (153.991 mph) and Cale Conley was fourth (152.568 mph). Ty Dillon came in sixth (152.104 mph) while Brian Scott , who topped the first session, placed eighth (151.726 mph) Aric Almirola , who is making his second Nationwide Series start of the season, placed third in the session (152.996 mph), while Trevor Bayne (152.517 mph) rounded out the top five. Points leader Chase Elliott was 10th in the session with a speed of 151.330 mph. Kyle Busch , who won at Dover in the spring, placed 11th in the session. James Buescher , the driver of the No. 99 Toyota, will be forced to drive a backup car after the hood popped open and damaged his car during his initial run of final practice. Coors Light Pole Qualifying will take place on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 with the Dover 200 taking place at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Nationwide Series opening practice " Results Brian Scott , fresh off his runner-up finish last weekend at Kentucky Speedway , topped the opening Nationwide Series practice at Dover International Speedway with a speed of 153.191 mph. Richard Childress Racing took the top three spots at Kentucky and four of the top six spots in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 and the team showed its power in the opening practice with all four of the team's drivers placing in the top 10. In addition to Scott, Cale Conley was second on the charts (152.478 mph), while last week's winner at Kentucky, Brendan Gaughan was sixth in the session (151.815 mph) and Ty Dillon finished ninth (151.560 mph). Points leader Chase Elliott was third for the 50-minute session with a speed of 152.458 mph. Sprint Cup Series regulars Kyle Larson (152.400 mph) and Kyle Busch (152.162 mph) rounded out the top five, respectively. Busch won the spring race at the Monster Mile. He has four wins in the Nationwide Series at Dover . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Driver-by-driver news and notes from the final race of the Challenger Round MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings " Best Dover photos " Gallery of winners RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon dominated the last quarter of the race, leading 94 of the final 96 laps for his fourth win of the season. Gordon was in good shape to advance heading into the final race of the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but the victory was an exclamation point after a disappointing finish at Loudon. Gordon shared the celebration with his team over the radio, exclaiming, "Woo hoo we won at Dover boys!" See how Gordon won at Dover . 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski looks like a man on a mission in the Chase. He led 78 laps in the AAA 400 and his second-place finish gives him an average finish of 3.3 through the first three races of the Chase. As has been the case this season, speed was not an issue for the No. 2 team as Keselowski was the fastest on restarts (151.888 mph) and the fastest early in a run (151.662 mph). See Keselowski's race highlights here . 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. A steady but not spectacular run for the nine-time winner at Dover . For the first time since the spring race in 2007, Johnson did not lead a lap in a Dover race. If the No. 48 team wasn't so dominant at the Monster Mile that wouldn't be alarming. Still, the team did what it had to and more to advance. If the sleeping giant wakes up, look out. See Johnson's race highlights here. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Last weekend's winner at Loudon already had his Contender Round ticket punched and he spent close to half the race outside the top 10. But "Sliced Bread" turned it on late, scoring his third straight top-five finish and his sixth straight top-10 at Dover . Despite not leading a lap, Logano seemed pleased with the effort, telling his team on the radio, "Good job battling all day." For more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView today. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth scored his 11th top-five finish of the season. In his seven-win season last year, he had 12 top-five finishes. Last year's championship runner-up spent the entire race in the top 15, something that only Johnson and Keselowski did otherwise, and spent the second-lowest amount of time on pit road. Get pit road times and more with RaceView. 6. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson has been on fire since the Chase began -- if only he were one of the 16 drivers in the field. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender had 37 quality passes, the second-most, according to loop data. In the three Chase races, Larson has an average finish of 3.7. Is there any doubt that his first Sprint Cup win is coming very soon? 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. At what is practically the New Jersey-born driver's home track, Truex posted his best finish in 16 races, which was coincidently a sixth-place finish in the spring race at Dover . Truex had the most green-flag passes in the race with 62, according to loop data. 8. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's steady hand helped him advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. He had the fourth-most green-flag passes (58), according to loop data. The eighth-place result was Newman's second such result at Dover in his past three races there. 9. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer earned his first top-10 finish since Richmond and extended his streak of top-10 finishes at the Monster Mile to eight straight races. 10. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Remember when everyone was worried that "Rowdy" wouldn't even make it out of the Challenger Round? Three top-10 finishes in the opening round of the Chase have proven that fear to be false. Busch was the third-fastest car early in a run and has looked solid in the Chase. 11. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. For a brief time, it looked like "Concrete Carl" may not make it out of the Challenger Round as he was running as far back as 23rd on Lap 80. But the veteran stayed after it and worked his way up thanks to making 33 quality passes, the sixth-most in the race, according to loop data. 12. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin entered the race on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round. But a strong starting spot, the least amount of time on pit road and a solid run at Dover moved him through. But one driver had some concerns about Hamlin's car as Gordon radioed to his team, "11 has his skirt flared out so much he's going to cut someone's tire." There were no post-race inspection issues with the No. 11 team. To hear more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView today. 13. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The polesitter led a race-high 223 laps and looked downright dominant. There were concerns about a broken left front shock, but it was a left front tire issue that derailed the No. 4 team's day. "Something had to cut that tire don't you think?" Harvick asked over the radio. Turned out to be a left front valve stem was knocked out. The team recovered well for a 13th-place finish, but this was the third time in five races that Harvick led triple-digit laps and had no win to show for it. See what happened to Harvick at Dover . 14. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. At a track where he has three career wins, "Smoke" scored his best finish since a seventh-place result at Loudon more than two months ago. He spent all but eight laps in the top 15. Perhaps this is the start of a strong 2014 finish to set up a solid 2015 campaign. 15. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers was eighth in the standings when engine trouble derailed his strong start to the season at Dover in the spring. He ran well here Sunday, scoring his fourth top-15 finish in the past five races. 16. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard has struggled to regain the form that saw him roll off four top-10 finishes in five races this spring into summer. The finish may look respectable but Menard ran just four laps in the top 15. 17. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. For the fifth time in six races, Junior finished outside the top 10. In fact, Dale Jr. spent only 40 laps in the top 10 and was never much of a threat to win. While the team moves on to the Contender Round, the results need to improve for a championship run. 18. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. "The Outlaw's" 500th career Sprint Cup Series start was supposed to be a joyous occasion but it was not as he did not advance to the Contender Round. Busch was battling a tight car most of the race and that affected his position as he went from 12th on Lap 300 to 18th at the finish. Busch took the blame, telling his team over the radio after the race, "It's all my fault. Put that all on the driver. It's all my fault." Hear what Busch had to say after the race. 19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. This was a markedly better result for the second-year driver than the spring race when a crash ended his day early. Stenhouse recorded the second-most green-flag passes (59), according to loop data. 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne battled his butt off to advance to the Contender Round. An unscheduled pit stop for a loose left rear tire on Lap 162 put Kahne two laps down. A green-flag stop on Lap 241 put him four laps down. Yet, at the end of the day, Kahne managed to be just one lap down and advanced in the Chase. Perhaps it was the team's ability to navigate traffic as Kahne was the seventh-fastest car in traffic (145.619 mph). Watch as Kahne talks about making the next round. 21. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle and the No. 16 team's performance at Dover was eerily similar to the team's performance in the first two Chase races. The team struggled to find speed, had a bad starting spot and battled to stay on the lead lap. Those trends can lead to early exit in the Chase, like they did for Biffle this year. 22. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray carried plenty of momentum into the race with four top-10 finishes in his previous five starts. However, the veteran driver struggled, logging the least amount of laps in the top 15 (87) for a driver that started in the top 10. 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger saw his Chase come to an end at a track that was considered to be one of his best in the Chase. The Watkins Glen winner was frustrated with his car all day long, telling his team over the radio on Lap 236, "if we're going to be competitive dude, you have to find me some grip. I'm getting sick in the car this thing is shaking so bad." He later added on Lap 352, "Evil man! I'm tired of driving evil cars!" He ultimately finished two points behind Kahne for the final Contender Round spot. For more in-car audio with drivers unplugged, subscribe to RaceView today . 24. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Dillon qualified well and started 10th, but couldn't transfer that success over to the race. Just like in the spring race, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet finished two laps down. 25. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick's four-race streak of top-20 finishes came to an end Sunday. Her finish was right at her career average finish of 25.8 at the Monster Mile. 26. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The finish may not have been what he wanted, but Ambrose got a shoutout from Dover International Speedway president Denis McGlynn in the driver's meeting. The RPM driver recorded the fifth-most green flag passes (57), according to loop data. 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. For the third straight race, Mears gradually improved on his starting position. During that stretch, he has an average finish of 25th. 28. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's first Chase run came to an end with a disappointing run at Dover . The No. 43 team struggled to find a rhythm at this 1-mile track and the result was Almirola's worst career finish at Dover in six starts. Hear what Almirola said after the race. 29. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. The rookie seems to be having an up-and-down second half of 2014. After earning three top-20 results in four races toward the end of the summer, he has since scored one top-20 finish in the five races since. 30. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. The rookie sure loves the 30th position. This was his fifth such result in six races. 31. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. For the second time in three weeks, Ragan finished in 31st. This finish came a week after a 42nd-place result at Loudon. 32. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Sorenson had his worse finish in nine races in the AAA 400 . He ran better in the spring race at Dover , finishing 24th. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. For the second time in three races, Gilliland finished outside the top 30. This comes on the heels of a stretch where he finished inside the top 30 in the six previous races. 34. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Bowman may have finished 34th, but the rookie showed improvement the second time around at the Monster Mile. He finished 40th at Dover in the spring. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing. On the bright side, Cassill improve on his starting position to the finish for the seventh time in eight races. The downside: this was his worst finish in that stretch. 36. Mike Bliss , No. 37 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Bliss' finish at Dover was the second-best finish he has had in six Sprint Cup starts this season and marked the second time this season he was running at the finish. 37. David Stremme , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Stremme's 37th-place finish at Dover was right on par with his average finish for the season, 36.5. 38. Travis Kvapil , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. Kvapil was hit a speeding penalty entering pit road on Lap 65. His 38th-place finish was his second finish in that spot in three races. 39. J.J. Yeley , No. 32 Ford, GO Fas Racing. Yeley started exactly where he finished at Dover , 39th. He was 13 laps down at the finish. 40. Mike Wallace , No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing. Making a Sprint Cup Series start for the second straight week, Wallace finished 16 laps down for the No. 66 team's eighth finish of 40th or worse this season. 41. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. For the fifth time in seven races, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender finished 37th or worse. An accident left Annett 39 laps down. 42. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise finished 203 laps down due to an issue with his suspension for his worst finish since the Las Vegas race in March. 43. Timmy Hill , No. 44 Chevrolet, Xxxtreme Motorsport. Making his seventh Sprint Cup start of the season, Hill retired from the race just 11 laps in with a vibration issue. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Find out who can clinch a spot in the next round at the Monster Mile RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota With one race left in the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, there are 10 spots that have yet to be clinched for the Contender Round. Here is a look at what drivers need to do to grab one of those spots at Dover . Clinch Scenarios For Dover International Speedway Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have each clinched a spot in the Contender Round via their wins at Chicagoland Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway , respectively. Below are the finishes each driver needs in Sunday’s race at Dover (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) to guarantee a spot in The Contenders Round, regardless of the finish of any other driver: Kevin Harvick : 34th or better; or 35th and at least one lap led; or 36th and most laps led Jimmie Johnson : 24th or better; or 25th and at least one lap led; or 26th and most laps led) Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr .: 21st or better; 22nd and at least one lap led; or 23rd and most laps led Jeff Gordon : 14th or better; 15th and at least one lap led; 16th and most laps led Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards : 2nd; or 3rd and most laps led AJ Allmendinger : 2nd Kasey Kahne : 2nd and at least one lap led Ryan Newman , Denny Hamlin , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola only control their own destiny by winning Sunday at Dover . 2014 Chase Grid Pos. Drivers Season Wins Chase Points 1 Brad Keselowski 5 2,097 2 Joey Logano 4 2,096 3 Kevin Harvick 3 2,090 5 Jimmie Johnson 3 2,080 5 Kyle Busch 1 2,077 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3 2,077 7 Jeff Gordon 3 2,070 8 Matt Kenseth 0 2,057 9 Carl Edwards 2 2,057 10 AJ Allmendinger 1 2,056 11 Kasey Kahne 1 2,055 12 Ryan Newman 0 2,055 13 Denny Hamlin 1 2,049 14 Greg Biffle 0 2,049 15 Kurt Busch 1 2,047 16 Aric Almirola 1 2,045 Green = In position to move to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Orange = In position to possibly be eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Challenger Round Red = Eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
SHR driver earns seventh pole of the 2014 season MORE: Full starting lineup " Complete standings entering Dover RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DOVER , Del. -- Kevin Harvick is starting from the optimum position after winning the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The question is whether the driver known as "The Closer" can finally close the deal from the front row. Harvick covered the one-mile distance in 22.095 seconds (162.933 mph) to edge Kyle Busch (162.404 mph) for the top spot on the grid. Denny Hamlin (162.250 mph) qualified third, followed by series leader Brad Keselowski (162.140 mph), Jamie McMurray (161.936 mph) and Jeff Gordon (161.573 mph). Entering the first elimination race in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick is in little danger of missing the cut, having finished fifth and third in the first two Chase events. But the Coors Light pole award at the Monster Mile is Harvick's seventh of the season, and only once this year, at Darlington in April, has he won a race from the top starting spot. The five-month absence from Victory Lane, however, isn't weighing on Harvick. "Not at all," said Harvick, who won his first pole at Dover and the 13th of his career. "I've been around this deal way too long to complain about top-five finishes. There are a lot of circumstances that go into winning a race at a lot of these places, and you just have to keep knocking on that door. "And then you'll win some that you shouldn't win, and a lot of times you don't win the ones that you think you should have won, and you win the ones that you don't think you should have won. So you just keep finishing in the top five or top three, and everything else will fall into place." Busch is solidly inside the Chase bubble, but Hamlin is 13th after last week's star-crossed 37th-place run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and in danger of elimination coming to a track where he expects to excel. "I expected to come here and contend for a pole and, really, contend for a win this weekend," Hamlin said. "No matter what happened last weekend, it didn't affect my mind-set as far as what my expectations were when I got to this race track. "There's a little bit more pressure to perform this weekend, so we hope things fall our way." A little more pressure? How about a lot? "This will be the hardest race that I'll definitely ever drive -- 400 miles," Hamlin acknowledged. "I'm just going to be as aggressive as I can, but not put myself in a bad position. This is the most important race of my career, because it's the most significant of my career at this point. "We've got to get the job done, and I'm going to do my part to make sure we're successful." Other Chase drivers on the outside of the bubble qualified as follows: Greg Biffle , 27th; Kurt Busch , 22nd; and Aric Almirola , 21st. Besides Harvick, Busch, Hamlin, Keselowski and Gordon, the remaining top-12 Chase drivers will start from the following positions: Jimmie Johnson , eighth; Kasey Kahne , 12th; Matt Kenseth , 14th; Joey Logano , 16th; Carl Edwards , 18th; Ryan Newman , 20th; and AJ Allmendinger , 28th. Following Sunday's race, 12 Chase drivers will advance for the first time to the Contender Round of NASCAR's revamped 10-race playoffs. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView Where the Chase drivers will start Driver Starting spot Brad Keselowski 4 Joey Logano 16 Kevin Harvick 1 Jimmie Johnson 8 Kyle Busch 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 25 Jeff Gordon 6 Matt Kenseth 14 Carl Edwards 18 AJ Allmendinger 28 Kasey Kahne 12 Ryan Newman 20 Denny Hamlin 3 Greg Biffle 27 Kurt Busch 22 Aric Almirola 21
Track hosted first Cup race in 1969 RELATED: See how Miles the Monster trophy is made Will lights finally come to Dover International Speedway ? Dale Earnhardt Jr. thinks yes -- and he tweeted what he considered evidence Thursday afternoon when he arrived to the track. I see foundations for light poles @MonsterMile . #NightRacing pic.twitter.com/VrUvnOd6d6 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 25, 2014 If the foundation is indeed set as Junior hints, it would be a historic announcement from the track. Since opening in 1969, Dover -- originally called Dover Downs International Speedway -- has run its NASCAR races in the daytime. The 1-mile concrete oval has hosted two premier series races per year since 1971. The AAA 400 , scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday (ESPN), is the third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and final event of the Challenger Round. NASCAR national series events begin in earnest Friday, so perhaps the track will have a response soon. UPDATE: On Friday, Dale Jr. tweeted what he learned from Dover International Speedway folks. Folks at @MonsterMile tell me those aren't light poles but rather a new fence under construction. Not sure I'm convinced. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 26, 2014 Dale Jr. isn't convinced so perhaps there is more to this. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Conti sweeps past Stergios and Overland as Hansen triggers a race-ending caution. Michael Conti pulled-off a surprising victory Round Seven of the 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series at Dover International Speedway Tuesday night, beating Chris Overland , PJ Stergios and Nick Ottinger on a restart with three laps to go. The win was Conti's second triumph in the last three in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series events. With nine laps of sim racing remaining Conti appeared destined to finish no better than third as Ottinger and Joey Brown both passed him with 15 laps to go and were not struggling as much with their tires. Things changed drastically, however, when Brown spun off of Turn Four on Lap 191, bringing out the caution flag. Even though only three laps would remain in the race when the green flew again, most of the leaders decided to pit for tires due to the massive tire falloff. Two drivers, Stergios and Overland, decided to roll the dice and stay on the track. Ottinger was the first car off pit road with four new tires and lined up third with Conti on his outside in fourth, also on new tires. Both drivers hoped the front row would not spin their tires and that the race would stay green long enough to regain the lead. The restart saw both Stergios and Overland get away with minimal wheel spin; fairly surprising considering their tires had over 50 laps on them. Instead, it was Ottinger who spun his tires and nearly swerved into Conti. Ottinger's bobble gave Conti any lane he wanted in Turn One as he looked to overtake Stergios and Overland as quickly as possible. Conti chose the outside lane, hoping the two drivers in front would keep their cars near the bottom. The plan worked to perfection as Conti took the long way 'round, using his fresh rubber to make a sensational three-wide pass for the lead. And not a moment too soon: the yellow flew just a couple seconds later when Danny Hansen got spun around battling for fourth. With only three laps to go, the race ended under yellow, giving Conti a somewhat unexpected win. "What a finish!" said Conti, who moved into the series points lead with his victory. "(I) can't say the car was the best it could have been tonight, but it was good when it counted." Stergios finished second and Overland was third as the two just missed-out on pulling a big upset. Ottinger had to settle for fourth while Peter Bennett rounded-out the top five with a quiet but solid run. Tire management was critical from start to finish as drivers could only go about half a fuel run before their lap times literally fell off a cliff. Conti started on pole and jumped out to a comfortable lead, but as the run wore on his car developed a bad push while Ottinger and Brown stayed more consistent. About half the field chose to pit once their tires began falling off, but that move backfired when the caution flew for the first time on Lap 49. Normally this would not have been a big deal as the cars that pitted could take the wave-around and get their lap back, but at Dover cars commonly go two laps down while pitting. With only two cautions in the first 190 laps, the drivers trapped a lap down never had a chance to recover. Thus only 13 drivers finished on the lead lap, far lower than normal in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series. The final run of the race before Brown's accident was the most interesting in terms of tire wear. Drivers knew they could not go the distance on fuel, but they had to balance pitting early to take advantage of fresh tires while risking being trapped laps down. Conti pitted a few laps before Ottinger and Brown and pulled out to a three second lead after the round of stops was complete. As the laps ticked down, Ottinger and Brown slowly started cutting tenths off of Conti's lead. By 20 laps to go, those tenths became closer to half a second as Conti's Chevy SS hit the tire performance cliff hard. In fact, he looked to be dead in the water as far as competing for the win before he was saved by the caution for Brown's spin. The win vaulted Conti into the championship lead. He leads Ottinger by eight points while Jake Stergios sits 16 points behind after a 13th place finish at Dover . Chad J Laughton fell to fourth after connection issues caused him to finish 32nd and Ray Alfalla is fifth despite finishing P19 after being trapped a lap down on the first round of pit stops With their visit to the fastest one mile track complete, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze competitors shift gears as they look forward to another fast track up next on the schedule ? Michigan International Speedway . Long green flag runs at the wide and fast track are commonplace and it would not be surprising to see fuel mileage heavily influence the outcome. Look for Ottinger, Alfalla and Hansen to be strong as they ran up front all race earlier this season at Michigan's sister track, Auto Club Speedway . Will a familiar face make another trip to victory lane or will fuel mileage and unpredictable tire wear usher a new driver to victory lane? Be sure to catch all the action in two weeks' time on iRacing Live ! "What a finish! . . . (I) can't say the car was the best it could have been tonight, but it was good when it counted." ? Michael Conti
Work on project began day after Monster Mile hosted Chase race RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Dover International Speedway has begun construction on new catch fencing that will be in place around the 1-mile facility before teams return for the 2015 NASCAR season. Officials said the work began Monday, one day after NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series completed the third race in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. It is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2015. "Because the track is known as a self-clearing race track, with steep banking, we are fortunate to have never had a NASCAR vehicle become airborne and hit the catch fence," Michael Tatoian, executive vice president and COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc., said. "With that in mind, our current fence served us well. "But as with anything at our facility, we've been looking for some time to update and improve it. With all of the new technologies and safety advances made in safety fencing, we wanted to do this right." The new fence will be 21 feet, a six-foot increase, and will be installed by Florida-based contractor Smith Fence. The company has completed similar projects at other NASCAR-sanctioned facilities. Dover International Speedway hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races annually, as well as Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series events. Its 2015 racing season is scheduled to get underway May 29-31 and will be back Oct. 2-4. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule