Kyle Busch driver to beat at Dover
Another week, another opportunity to make history in the Busch … check that, Nationwide Series. Sort of feels like Busch's series right now, though.
Kyle Busch has hoarded six victories in the nine races he's entered in NASCAR's second-tier developmental series this season and arrives at Dover International Speedway ready to rewrite another media guide. Busch passed Mark Martin for career Nationwide wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend -- seven -- and is now in a three-way tie for the wins standard at Dover -- three -- with Todd Bodine and Carl Edwards.
A victory would have broader statistical weight. Consider: If Busch were to attain his seventh win of the season in just the 11th series race (he didn't enter Talladega), he would smash the previous record for expedience -- Race 16 -- set by Sam Ard in 1984. Busch's previous fewest amount of races needed for a seventh win was 18 in 2010.
Of Busch's three Nationwide wins at the 1-mile concrete oval, two came when he swept the series' events there in 2010. Spring victory has proved to be a precursor to dominance at Dover the past three seasons as Busch, Edwards (2011) and Joey Logano (2012) have each reached Victory Lane in both races in a season. Logano led 338 of 400 Nationwide laps last season at Dover, site of his first race in the series in 2008, when he qualified ninth and finished sixth for Joe Gibbs Racing a week after turning 18 years old.
Logano has finished fourth, third and second in moonlighting in the No. 22 Ford this season at Penske Racing.
"I think we are getting closer and closer," Logano said of possibly adding a victory. "The more I run with the guys and the team and the more I work with [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins, the more of a chemistry we are building. And that's what it's going to take to get a win. You need to have that chemistry. We have some fast Fords; we just need to put it all together. If we can do it anywhere, I think this weekend will give us a good shot. I'm looking forward to it, for sure."
The last Nationwide regular to win the race was Brad Keselowski, now the defending Sprint Cup champion, in 2009.
Qualifying position has also been a major indicator of success. In the past three seasons, the winner came from the pole twice, second starting position three times and third once.
Regan Smith enters the race with a 29-point lead over Sam Hornish Jr. in the driver standings. Since snatching the points lead from Hornish with a win at Talladega Superspeedway, Smith has finished seventh at Darlington and 10th at Charlotte.
Neither driver has as much as a top-10 finish at Dover. In 17 national series starts there, Smith has a best finish of 16th in a 2003 Nationwide race for now-defunct Ginn Racing. Hornish is coming off a promising test at Dover, according to crew chief Greg Erwin, but has an average finish of 18th there in three starts, his best a 13th last spring.
"Dover really is Bristol on steroids," Smith, who finished sixth at the Tennessee short track this spring, said. "They have very similar feels. I look forward to going there and racing. I think the speeds make it a bit intimidating. You're just going so fast and you have the high banking. It's also self-cleaning, so odds are, if you make a mistake, you're going to hit something.
"It's very rare -- maybe one out of a hundred times -- that you'll wreck at Dover and not tear up your race car. It requires you to be on top of the ball all the time, not make mistakes and be smooth. With the concrete, you get a different type of feel from the car. For whatever reasons, the car seems to bounce around a lot more on concrete."