At exactly 1 mile in length, Dover technically qualifies as a super speedway, but in reality, the Monster Mile personifies a short track racing experience in NASCAR.
Racing is intense at Dover. In many aspects, the racing there reminds me of Darlington, another super speedway with a short track personality.
The diversity among recent winners at Dover shows just how hard it can be for any driver to totally dominate at this track. Just in the last 10 years alone, the track has had 13 different winners, partly, of course, because NASCAR runs 2 races per year in the Cup series at Dover.
In the last 10 years, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman have won multiple times. So have Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Bobby Labonte has won at Dover. Matt Kenseth has won here. So have Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Who's the odds on favorite to win at Dover this week? Personally, I have no clue, but I'm personally betting on momentum at this point. Mark Martin looks good to win just about anywhere these days, and Dover should be no exception.
Certainly, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart have a good chance of winning at Dover as well. The same could be said for Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, or Carl Edwards.
Personally, I think it would be a treat to see someone win who has never won a Dover race, such as strong Chase contenders Kurt Busch or Denny Hamlin. A win by someone outside the top 12 would be good to see too, such as maybe Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick, or dare I say it? A repeat win for Dale Earnhardt Jr? What would that do for the TV ratings?
Once again, NASCAR goes head to head with the NFL on Sunday. Last week at New Hampshire, NASCAR was the big loser in that battle. Personally, I doubt that NASCAR will fare much better again on Sunday, but a great race and a win by a popular driver couldn't hurt. I think that the racing will be great, and the winner, of course, will be they guy that survives the Monster with all the fenders intact.
The Chase was designed to give NASCAR a boost as the season winds down, to erase any huge point leads, and to put the top 12 drivers on a more or less level playing field for the last 10 races of the season. NASCAR, however, appears to be in a lose-lose situation when they go up against the mighty NFL for TV ratings, and unless something drastic happens in the NASCAR world in the remaining 9 races for 2009, that situation will likely not change.
For more in depth information regarding the NASCAR vs. NFL battle, check out the undisputed guru of NASCAR TV coverage, John Daly, at his site. There are tons of great comments there!