Column: It’s time for the Monster Mile

Published 3:08 pm Saturday, June 3, 2006

By Staff
Well, another Memorial weekend has come to pass and the fans were not disappointed. As predicted by this writer, the Indy 500 was filled with excitement and drama.
Sam Hornish Junior overcame a potential dangerous fire and penalty on pit road to pass rookie Marco Andretti on the final lap for the win.
The Coca Cola 600, won by Kasey Kahne, was a race littered with cautions and dozens of pit stops. The new track was perfect, but the super-hard tires and small fuel cells made the race resemble a pit crew competition rather than a race as there were very few passes for the lead on the track.
I hope that when the NEXTEL Cup Series returns to Charlotte in the fall that Goodyear offers a different tire so the racing action is a bit better.
This weekend both the Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series are headed to Dover Delaware to race on The Monster Mile. This track is unique in many ways compared to other tracks on the circuit.
To start, the entire track is concrete, rather than asphalt, and both speed and racing action will be wild. The banking of the corners at Dover is steep (24 degrees) and, rather than going up the banking, the cars go down below the level of the straight-aways to enter the corners and then back up the hill as they exit the turns. This offers a great view of the track for the fans attending.
Unlike most tracks where the infield is littered with campers and fans, there is the famous Dover Downs harness racing track.
Historically speaking, there has not been one driver to dominate the Monster Mile. Since 2000, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman have each won three times and Tony Stewart has won twice. Don't look for Stewart to go to victory lane though as two crashes at Charlotte last week took their toll.
Smoke is suffering from a broken shoulder blade and vows to start the race, but will give up the driver's seat during the first caution flag of the race to veteran Ricky Rudd.
Kasey Kahne dominated here last year, but luck was not on his side as he blew a tire leading one race and spun out in someone's oil in the other. I look for him to continue his great season and be a factor on Sunday along with Johnson.
Qualifying well is a key here as the winner of the last 12 races has come from outside of a top ten starting position only twice.
Our local drivers did not fare well at all last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. David Stremme finished the highest of the three drivers in 31st, but ran in the top 10 for a good portion of the race.
Ryan Newman suffered more bad luck spinning twice and had mechanical failure, thus putting him in the 35th position, 31 laps behind the leader.
Tony Raines' engine expired 264 laps into the 400 lap marathon and finished 40th.