3rd race of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs.
Playoff format – top 16 will be eligible to win the Monster Energy Cup “Chase for the Championship”. All of the points are made even amongst drivers 11-16. The winner (Martin Truex Jr) gets 15 additional points, 2nd place gets an additional 10, 3rd gets 9, 4th gets 8 etc.. going down to 1 point for the 10thplace driver (Chase Elliott). This is the last race before the field drops down to 12, after the next 3 it goes down to 8, after the next three it goes down to 4 with the final race being the Ford EcoBoost 400.
What: Apache Warrior 400
When: October 1st
Where: Dover International Speedway
2016 Winner: Martin Truex Jr
Track: Dover International Speedway. Opened in 1969, the "Monster Mile" 1 mile oval concrete track has 24 degrees banking on the turns and 9 degrees on the straightway. This is the third Concrete track that racers face after Martinsville and Bristol. The oils that hold Asphalt together grow more liquid during races meaning that there is more adhesive friction through straightways and turns but less abrasive friction which is where Concrete courses excel. Essentially on a Concrete course if you lose your grip you lose all grip vs. Asphalt you can regrain your grip as you drift and sway. Control is very important on Concrete tracks.
Jimmie Johnson. He won here earlier this year. He finished 7th here in the playoffs last year, he’s had so-so success lately with 3 top 15 finishes but none in the top 5. The thing with Jimmie Johnson is his ability to close the deal and it’s right around now that he starts to turn his racing up each year.
Chase Elliott. Last year in two races at Dover he averaged a 3rd place finish. I was able to do that quick math in my head because his finishes were 3rd place and 3rd place. This year at the AAA 400 at Dover he finished 5th. He knows how to control his car very well on the concrete and is about as solid of a bet as you can get for a top 5 finish at Dover.
Ryan Newman. He finished 4th here earlier this year, while he struggled through the first two playoff races he had four consecutive top 8 finishes prior to that. Ryan is also 14th right now and this is the last race before the field cuts down to 12. He had a 4th place finish earlier this season at a race he needs to succeed at to advance in the playoffs, perhaps this is serendipitous?
Daniel Suarez. Always strong with control, Daniel finished 6th at Dover earlier this year. He’s had three consecutive starts in the top 15 and despite missing the playoffs he’s showing no signs of letting up in the playoffs.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. With a handful of races left, I think this is a course where he can do well and my bold prediction: this will be Dale’s last top 10 finish of his career.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 13th (34th percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 15th (41st percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 18th (48th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 19th (52nd percentile)