It had been a rough couple of years for Dover Motor Speedway on the NASCAR schedule.
With dwindling attendance, its playoff date on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule was dropped for the 2020 season, and that second date was dropped entirely the following year. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series date was shelved after 2020 as well, and Dover has had just one Cup and Xfinity series race each on the schedule since 2021.
The track became a part of Speedway Motorsports for 2022, and while there have been concerns about the track’s future in NASCAR, last year’s Cup race had one of the best turnouts at Dover in years … until rain postponed the final 320 laps to Monday. Likewise, Monday’s (May 1) race at Dover also had good attendance despite the complete washout to Monday.
But if the goal is for Dover to remain an annual staple on the calendar, there’s three problems to address: rain, rain and rain.
Traditionally held in the first weekend of June, Dover’s Cup date was moved to the first weekend of May (or, in this year’s case, the last week of April) for 2018 and beyond.
Let’s just say that Mother Nature was not a fan of the change.
- 2018: Sunday race that featured a rain delay with 84 laps to go
- 2019: Race was rained out to Monday
- 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dover was scheduled as a doubleheader in August.
- 2021: Race ran on Sunday, but the race ended with ominous skies and an impending downpour
- 2022: First 80 laps run on Sunday while the rest was run on Monday
- 2023: Race was rained out to Monday
Whether it was a rain delay, a postponement or a threat of rain, every single Cup race at Dover has been impacted by rain since its switch to the first week of May on the calendar. The last time that a Dover race in June was postponed to Monday was 2007; it’s now happened in three of the last four May editions.
It’s hard for a track to acquire momentum or interest when it’s almost a given for uncooperative weather. And for a track that doesn’t have lights like Dover, the problems are only exacerbated.
And for Dover’s place on the schedule, there are now five years of evidence that the current date isn’t working for anyone involved (except Martin Truex Jr., more on that later).
But when looking at the climate data for Dover, Del., from 1991 to 2020, the month of May received less precipitation on average than June. Has it just been a cartoonish string of bad luck with Dover in early May?
It is worth noting, however, that the average does not account for the last three years; it’s possible that the last five, 10 years have seen more rain in May. While the weather might be a string of bad luck, Dover’s placement on the 2024 schedule should be closely monitored.
Ryan Truex and Martin Truex Jr. swept the weekend at Dover.
- It’s the first time a pair of brothers swept the weekend since Kyle Busch (Xfinity) and Kurt Busch (Cup) swept the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July 2021.
Of Truex’s four Cup wins at Dover, three of them (2007, 2019 and 2023) were won on a Monday. September 2016 was his only win on a Sunday.
- The only other driver to win at Dover on a Monday was Chase Elliott in 2022.
6: The number of races (out of 11) that Kyle Larson has spent in the garage to start 2023. With two wins, four top fives, four DNFs and an average finish of 18.2, it’s been feast or famine, checkers or wreckers for the No. 5 team this year.
399: The number of wins for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization between the Cup Series (202) and Xfinity Series (197). With one more win, they would be the first team to eclipse the 400 mark.
21: The number of points-paying winners in the Next Gen car after Truex won for the first time since 2021.
- Only nine drivers competing full-time since 2022 have yet to record a win with the car: Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Justin Haley, Corey LaJoie, Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell, Todd Gilliland, Aric Almirola and Harrison Burton.
12: The number of cars that finished on the lead lap in Monday’s (May 1) race at Dover.
- It’s the lowest total since the 2022 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, which had 10.
- Before Joey Logano’s crash with 14 laps to go, only eight cars were on the lead lap. Kevin Harvick was the first car two laps down in 14th, and with the pace that Truex and Ross Chastain were putting up, Chris Buescher (eighth) and William Byron (seventh) were also in danger of getting lapped before the finish.
- The last time a race had fewer than 10 lead-lap cars was the 2021 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway (nine), which was Truex’s most recent points win prior to Monday.
Who will win at Kansas Speedway on May 7: Toyota, Larson or somebody else?
- 23XI Racing swept Kansas last year with Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace.
- Larson led the most laps in both Kansas races in 2021, winning one of them. Kyle Busch of JGR won the other.
- Toyota looked strong at Dover, but Hendrick Motorsports (specifically Larson and Byron) dominated the most recent 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- If anyone will spoil the party between Byron, Larson and Toyota, it will be points leader Ross Chastain, who was also one of the best cars at Las Vegas.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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