by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.September 28, 2011 1:05 pm UTC No Comments
But when it comes to Dover, Stewart hasn’t won since sweeping the track in 2000. He came close in the spring 2009 race, only to be edged for the lead by Jimmie Johnson with three laps to go. His average finish at Dover in the seven Chase races is a so-so 15.3, but the Chase isn’t about solid points finishes, it’s about winning.
If recent history is to be trusted, in fact, this should be the track at which Johnson breaks out. Johnson, like Stewart, can boast a Dover sweep in the distant past (2002), but unlike Stewart, has tasted victory more recently. He’s won the past two fall Dover races (both from pole) and three of the past five at the track overall. He used last year’s victory to set him up to take the points lead from Denny Hamlin the next weekend at Kansas. The two would continue to swap the lead throughout the Chase, in one of the best battles in the format’s history.
Johnson’s career average finish of 9.6 is second best of all active Cup drivers, with only Carl Edwards‘ 7.6 a superior mark. Edwards only has one career win at Dover, however, which came during the 2007 season. The win, inherited when dominant teammate Matt Kenseth blew an engine, put Edwards within 28 points of leader Jeff Gordon; however, a late-race crash at Kansas put a major dent in his title hopes, and he wouldn’t win again that year.