Three races remain before the playoffs, so this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at “The Monster Mile” will go a long way in determining the standings.
A Drydene 311 race will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Dover International Speedway. It’ll be the third track in Cup Series history to host a doubleheader in consecutive days. Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway accomplished the feat earlier this season.
Races at Dover are usually 400 laps, but this year’s doubleheader will be shorter. The 311 laps should make it easier on drivers to recover between the doubleheader.
“What you do from Saturday to Sunday is really going to be important to make sure you have the proper energy and your mind is clear to go race hard on Sunday,” said driver Ty Dillon.
Dover is known to be a demanding track on drivers and equipment. It’s rough inside the car because of how fast it is in the banking, Dillon said.
“There’s like a downhill and a jump that happens in each corner, which is just awesome,” Jimmie Johnson said. “That’s the thing that really sets that track apart.”
Johnson has grown accustomed to winning at Dover. His 11 career Cup Series wins at the Monster Mile is the most all-time. Bobby Allison’s seven victories is second. .
If Johnson wants to return to the playoffs this season, he will need win No. 12 to clinch a spot. His last Cup Series win came in 2017 at Dover. Last season was the first time Johnson missed the Cup Series Playoffs since the format was updated in 2004.
Ten of the 16 playoff spots have been clinched, but Johnson — who is currently 17th in the standings — would earn a seat in the playoffs with a win. He’ll be starting in row three on Saturday.
“I never wanted to have a winless drought or a winless season, but I’ve worked through so many of those emotions the last couple of years,” Johnson said. “I also understand that there are factors that I can’t control. I know there are wins still out there for me. That’s just the glass half-full point of view that I have.”
Dillon had one of his best races at Dover during his rookie season in 2017. He led for 27 laps and was set to finish in the top 10 before a bad restart pushed him to a 14th-place finish.
Like Johnson, Dillon needs a win, but he’ll need more help from other drives to get into the playoffs. Dillon is currently 27th in the standings.
“I know I can get it done there, I know what it takes to lead there against the best,” Dillon said. “It’s just a matter of getting the setup, making sure we have the right combination, and making sure that we can be aggressive on our calls.”
Kevin Harvick is currently No. 1 in the Cup Series standings. Stafford Township, N.J. native Martin Truex Jr. is seventh.