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AAA 400 Drive For Autism (Dover)

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NASCAR heads from the Midwest all the way to the East Coast to tackle the “Monster Mile” at Dover for the AAA 400 Drive For Autism, this time for a triple-header throughout the top three major series. You can say that Dover International Racewayis a combination of Bristol and Talladega, but racing on concrete is not that fun for most drivers. It may be only a mile long, but the entire track is tight all around.

Kyle Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens and front-tire changer Josh Leslie were suspended for this race for violating the new lug nut rule in Kansas. Stevens was also fined $20,000, and Joe Gibbs Racing decided not to appeal and both are put on probation through December 31. Leslie will be replaced by Brian Eastland, who served as tire changer for Martin Truex Jr before he was reassigned.

Jimmie Johnson and Truex were each given their third warning for failing inspection at Kansas. One more warning means losing pit selection for the next race, but the penalties reset. Truex and Aric Almirola failed pre-qualifying laser inspection, while Almirola, Johnson, Regan Smith and A.J. Allmendinger failed pre-qualifying template inspection twice. Almirola and Regan now each have two and Allmendinger one.

Even with the warnings, Johnson still has all the knowledge that all the other drivers wish they had. Johnson leads all drivers, active or not, with 10 wins at Dover. He won last year’s Spring race and three of the last five Dover races. An 11th win will be needed as Johnson finished outside the top 10 in three of the last four races this season, and hopes to get Hendrick out of a slump.

Kyle is the first to reach three wins this season and looks to add number four to pull further ahead. He has won at Dover twice, but hasn’t won there since 2010 and neither has Toyota. He only raced there in the Fall during the Chase, but finished second behind Kevin Harvick, and overall has eight total top 10’s since his last win there.Todd Berrier will serve as Kyle’s crew chief for this race.

There are several drivers who desperately need a win in order to make it back to the Chase, and stay above the top 30. Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart each have three wins, and both are looking to get back on track. Newman’s last win was 2004 withTeam Penske, but with Richard Childress Racing, only one top 10 in four races. He now has a winless streak of 99 races and hopes to avoid 100.

Stewart on the other hand last won in 2013, but not a whole lot of success at Dover since becoming owner. In 13 races at Stewart-Haas Racing, Stewart only has five top 10’s, and rides a winless streak of 90 races going back to, you guessed it, Dover. It was by then he was experiencing those series of unfortunate events which has kept him out of Sprint Cup on and off in three of the last four seasons.

Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are two more drivers in need of a desperate turnaround since both have two wins at Dover. Biffle however has yet to score a top 10 and is one of the drivers who has a streak of 100 races or more without a win. To be exact, it’s been 104 races since winning at Michigan in 2013. Kenseth looks to be turning his luck around finishing in the top 10 in two of the last three races this season, but needs a win to totally fix that.

Normally AAA sponsors the Spring Race at Dover, but NASCAR annually gives their time to support the fight against autism, which gives this race special meaning. Bristol helped Stand Up 2 Cancer come on board for Steve Byrnes last year and AAA will do the same for Drive For Autism this season.

Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law

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