RPW Column: News, Notes & Takeaways After NASCAR’s Big Weekend At The Monster Mile

Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – DOVER, DE – Welcome to my notebook! I did one of these after Super DIRT Week 50 ended in October, and it was a success. I’ll likely do these after a big race weekend.

Let’s take a look at the things I took away.

Thirty-six drivers entered the Würth 400. Practice took place Saturday, with Brad Keselowski the quickest amongst drivers with a 22.690. The best 10 consecutive lap average went to Josh Berry, filling in for the injured Alex Bowman with an average speed of 154.426 mph.

Qualifying was rained out, setting the field via the COVID formula. Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell made the front row.

Last week, Busch took the win at Talladega. His new sponsor, McLaren Custom Grills, had its website crash within minutes after many clicks surrounding Busch’s win.

“That’s the KFB factor,” Busch joked in a news conference Saturday. “You want to drive attention to the sponsors, and have the sponsors get that notoriety and getting people to check out their products and buy their products.”

Green was initially set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, then moved up an hour due to threatening rain, which pelted the area leading to the race’s postponement until Monday at noon.

Remember, NASCAR changed how the cars crumble when rear-ended in the center section. A rough and tough stage one, one of the more notable incidents involved Ty Dillon taking a heavy impact early in the race after getting checked up from behind when Daniel Suarez spun in front of him. Dillon walked out away and said he was OK.

William Byron led the most laps at 193, but his car faded in stage three, eventually finishing in the fourth spot.

“Stage one and two we had a good balance, but stage three we just got too loose,” Byron told RPW. “Couldn’t load the rear tires. Just fell back that one run. Little bit of communication and radios just to know what we need. Went from dirty air to clean air to change the balance. Overall, good day for us.”

Josh Berry finished 10th in his first race filling in for Alex Bowman. Definitely ended his day with a lot of positives.

“I thought it was a pretty solid day,” Berry said. “Limited experience in the NextGen so I think this was the most complete race we’ve had. We stayed in the top 10-15 the whole race. Overall, proud of the whole Ally team for everything this week.”

Martin Truex Jr. scored the win, his fourth at Dover, becoming the 10th driver to have four or more wins at Dover. He also has three total Monday wins in Cup, with one-off teammate Denny Hamlin.

“It’s amazing,” Truex said. “This is one of my favorite tracks. I love coming here. Like I said, a lot of friends and family come to this track, and I feel like we have a lot of fans up in this neck of the woods.”

Tire wear was an issue in practice, with some drivers experiencing cording. Joey Logano had problems on the right front. Berry experienced issues, too.

“The track is green, it’s rained a lot,” Berry said. “We’ll see early on. Once the track takes rubber I think we’ll be fine.”

Noah Gragson spotted an attractive new hairdo, to say the least. He bet Austin Dillon $100 that he would get a bowl cut, and he did it!

“We used to have the mullet, but ladies we got that bowl cut now, so I think we’re bringing a new style to NASCAR,” Gragson said on FS1.

The sport needs more of Noah.


NASCAR Xfinity Series Notes…

39 drivers were on the entry list for the A-GAME 200 at Dover, with practice and qualifying rained out. Parker Kligerman and Cole Custer started on the front row via the COVID formula.

The four Dash4Cash drivers competing for $100,000 were Kligerman, Custer, Sheldon Creed, and Jeb Burton.

Some good back-and-forth racing throughout stage one. Custer led early, followed by Creed, and then Ryan Truex made his run from 12th to first and cruised early.

The notable accident of the day took place on lap 64 when Parker Kligerman was hooked by Corey Heim, the latter making his Xfinity Series debut. Kligerman got out under his own power but then signaled to Corey that he was No. 1.

“We were struggling,” Kligerman told RPW. “Trying to work on it, but out of the racetrack. Running my best to run different lanes and got run over a bit. Just give me a corner and don’t drive into my left rear. We shouldn’t have been in that position.”

Later in the race, Austin Hill made a charge, taking the lead early in stage three. Hill had 17 laps in the stint until Truex ran to the inside. On lap 112, entering turn one, Truex had a run and ran Hill up the track without any contact giving Truex the lead.

“His car was so much faster than anyone else that I thought it was a little uncalled driving into the corner knowing he was gonna get free underneath just because that’s the product of this racetrack. He just drove straight up the racetrack and I had to straighten the wheel up and it loads the left front up, so it gets me tight. If me and him were identical all day and no one had an advantage, I could see him making that big move. He could’ve just wrapped the bottom. It is what it is.”

Hill finished fourth.

For Truex, it was his first career Xfinity win in 89 starts.

“To dominate like that with a car like that – just feels amazing,” Truex said. “I’m so proud to drive for this team. Huge thanks to Joe Gibbs Racing, Coach (Joe Gibbs), Toyota. I knew I had two more shots at this and I had to make one count, and I did today.”

Cole Custer won the Xfinity Dash4Cash, his second straight $100,000 bonus.

“Winning $200,000 in the last two weeks is huge for our team and it’s a big accomplishment,” Custer said. “We’ve been solid the last few weeks and we’ve been starting to put it together.”

Sheldon Creed played the strategy game to see if he could go the distance. Late in the race, he pitted for two seconds’ worth of fuel. Eventually, he would finish 11th, despite leading 41 laps.

“I didn’t know if we were going all the way,” Creed said. “They just said keep running. I knew we cycled to the lead, but I didn’t know if I was one lap ahead or where I was at. Really good car, past a lot of good cars. Was even good on the late run after everyone pitted and could wrap the corner well. I would get tight on the exit, as long as I would be patient.”

Amongst miscellaneous stuff, Anthony Alfredo had a pasta sauce for the first time ever in Botticelli. “Fast Pasta” (Alfredo’s nickname) wore a chef’s hat before the race to help market the sponsor.

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