Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Will Kevin Harvick or Chase Elliott Win at Dover?

Both soon-to-be retired Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott, back from his injury, lead all active drivers with victories at Dover Motor Speedway with two. Will either of them win on Sunday, and whose victory would be more noteworthy for the sport?

Steve Leffew: Dover is one of several remaining really good chances for Kevin Harvick to get at least one more win. He’s now on a 22-race winless streak and has 26 more chances to win in his retirement tour. Each week that passes, whispers will grow about whether Harvick will be able to win another race. He has a win and an average finish of fifth for his last four Dover races. A Harvick win is a story I want to see. But last time we were at Dover, Chase Elliott led 73 laps and won. Either of these guys could win. If you pair them together and give me them or the field? I need to know the odds, but that would be a tempting wager.

The question about which is more noteworthy depends on who you ask. Recent NASCAR ad campaigns spent a lot of time promoting the return of Elliott. But Harvick is the active ironman of NASCAR. If it weren’t for a one-race suspension in 2002, Harvick would’ve already eclipsed 800 consecutive starts. He’s an Ironman who took over for Ironhead. He’s been a fixture of the sport for over 20 years. One of the few remaining drivers who were active during NASCAR’s peak. Elliott will get many more wins. But a Harvick victory would be more noteworthy.

Chris Skala: It has to be Elliott. Coming off of a broken ankle, this is his third race back. With the medical waiver in play, Elliott only needs that one victory to pretty much lock himself into the playoffs. What better track to do that than the track where he won last season? A Harvick win would be big, but as we have seen in the last two weeks, NASCAR needs Elliott on track. With Elliott in victory lane, it’s not only a win for Elliott but also a win for the fans and NASCAR.

Andrew Stoddard: Neither Harvick nor Elliott will find victory lane this weekend. Stewart-Haas Racing is still lagging behind a bit in terms of race-winning speed, and this is only Elliott’s third race back in action from his leg injury. Now, based on recent NASCAR TV ratings and marketing, there is no question which of those two drivers winning would be bigger for the sport right now.

Taylor Kornhoff: Harvick winning would be far more noteworthy for the sport. Elliott has already proven he can drive despite his injury and he has many more chances to win this season and onward in his career. Harvick on the other hand is in his last year, and you only get one last year.

Mike Neff: Both organizations have shown good speed recently, so either of them could pull it off. Harvick would probably be better for the sport just because his career is coming to an end. A playoff spot for his final season would be a fitting sendoff, and a win would almost guarantee that.

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Multiple drivers have been named to the 75 greatest drivers in NASCAR. Should all these drivers be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

Kornhoff: All of these drivers should be inducted into the Hall of Fame eventually and then some. It would probably be met with heavy criticism, but some of the previous top 50 drivers should be kicked off to make room for more. There are many more drivers since the ’90s than 25 that deserve to be on that list.

Leffew: I see both sides. On one hand, it seems like it’ll water down the Hall of Fame’s prestige when it puts guys like Ryan Newman and Sterling Marlin in. But then, even those guys had pretty incredible careers. Marlin amassed 10 wins and 83 top fives and was never really with a top-tier team. Newman won 18 races and 51 poles. Even Jeff Burton had 21 wins and eight top-10 points finishes. When you look at the resumes of these guys on the bubble, they are still great. They won a lot of races and had the endurance to sustain long and successful careers. Many drivers entered events between Newman’s first and final victory. Most of those drivers will never be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame. But life is short, and these top 75 guys deserve to be in.

Stoddard: The Hall of Fame should be a little more exclusive than the 75 greatest drivers list. Hall of Fame inductees include not just drivers but also crew chiefs, owners, former NASCAR executives and really anyone who has had a significant influence on the sport. A Hall of Fame driver should rack up a significant amount of driver titles and/or race wins. Most of the drivers added to the NASCAR 75 list are already in the Hall of Fame or fit the mold for future induction, with two exceptions. Kasey Kahne and Newman are just barely on the outside looking in. If they do get their name called, it will take several years/ballots.

Neff: Eventually yes, all 75 on the list will be inducted. Marlin and Newman are the only two who are questionable. Neither has 20 wins at the Cup level. Neither has a championship in NASCAR. It is a stretch putting them in the top 75, but they will be in the Hall eventually.

Skala: Let’s make this simple: The Hall of Fame is the ultimate achievement for the best drivers in the history of NASCAR. The 75 greatest drivers in NASCAR are honoring the best 75 drivers ever to race on the track. This should go hand in hand. In the last two weeks, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Burton have been named into the group. That tells me that NASCAR feels they should and will be Hall of Famers. It just wouldn’t feel right to have a driver not on the top 75 list that is in the Hall of Fame or vice versa outside of those not eligible yet.

With all the criticism surrounding racing at Dover in recent years, do you see it on the NASCAR schedule five years from now?

Stoddard: Yes, Dover should definitely have a slot in the NASCAR schedule, but it should stay at one race weekend per year like the past few seasons. Dover is a racetrack that stands out from the rest for its slight descents into the turns, and it is one of only three Cup tracks with a completely concrete surface, along with Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway. Furthermore, Dover needs a revamping of its fan experience and amenities, as the last renovation related to fan areas took place way back in 2008. The Monster Mile could also use a break from Mother Nature, with a rain postponement last year and another one likely on tap for this weekend.

Skala: Yes, I do see Dover on the schedule. It’s a one-of-a-kind track that location-wise is pretty close to New York. Dover and Pocono Raceway are the two closest tracks to the New York market, so the track needs to stay. There is one thing that would improve the racing at Dover: progressive banking. Don’t believe me? Where’s the best racing in NASCAR? Homestead-Miami Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. Auto Club is the only track without progressive banking. Make Dover 20-24 degrees of banking in the corners and you will get the racing you want.

Leffew: It’s true Dover is lower on the track prestige rankings. The racing has been pretty poor the last several years. It could be on the chopping block as the sanctioning body looks to diversify the schedule into new markets and new types of tracks. I’m not ready to say it needs a makeover to survive, though. I don’t like the idea of rushing into reconfigurations. But it does need to put on a good race.

Neff: Dover is an awesome track and the difficulty of driving the most recent packages will hopefully bring back the monster. It absolutely should be on the schedule and no makeover is needed.

Kornhoff: Dover does not need a makeover to survive; it’s simply too iconic. But it probably could get turned into an actual short track at some point if NASCAR can get the package right and the new Auto Club ends up being a success.

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Frankie Muniz leads the ARCA Menards Series points. Has he proven he’s a legitimate title threat?

Skala: Absolutely. He is doing what you are supposed to do week in and week out to win championships in racing, run consistently and stay out of trouble. If he can do that, he will end up in victory lane at least once and could end up holding the trophy at the end of the season. The best part about ARCA is that not many drivers run full time, so the number of drivers competing against Frankie Muniz is not many.

Leffew: Muniz will need to lead some laps at some point to be taken seriously for the title. We’re only three races into the ARCA season, so we don’t know for sure how well Muniz is going to run yet. He’s done a solid job given his experience, but he has zero top fives or laps led. There is still time for him to improve enough to enter the conversation, though.

Kornhoff: Muniz has proven he’s a legitimate title threat, especially considering his performance at Phoenix Raceway. Time will tell, but he’s been racing in lots of different series for a while now and he’s proven he’s not just in it for clout.

Neff: It is certainly very early in the process, but you don’t lead the points by accident. Let’s see how things look after a road course, short track and dirt track tick off the schedule.

Stoddard: I am going to write the same thing I always write when a question like this comes up: show me the race win(s). While Muniz has turned heads with his consistency, ARCA is only three races into its 20-race schedule. Ask this question again in about a month or two.

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023, and covers the Xfinity Series. He resides in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan as long as he can remember. He has served honorably in the United States Air Force and works during the week as a Real Estate Lender.

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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