Dover has been kind to Johnson
Round 2 of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup is today at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, as drivers compete in the Dodge Dealers 400 at the famed track in the New England.
Defending champion Jimmie Johnson leads the standings despite last week's lackluster performance in New Hampshire, and has to be considered one of the favorites today. He has three wins, four top-fives and seven top-10s at Dover in his career.
Jeff Gordon is actually tied with Johnson with 5,210 points, but Johnson holds the tiebreaker based on his series-high six wins this season.
Kurt Busch took the biggest tumble in the standings, falling seven spots to 12th after his 25th-place finish at New Hampshire.
Denny Hamlin dropped three spots after placing 15th.
The biggest gainer, of course, was Clint Bowyer, who jumped from 12th to fourth with his first win of the season.
Kyle Busch also made up some ground, jumping from ninth to fifth after his fourth-place finish.
Truex tries for repeat
When NASCAR last visited Dover International Speedway, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy, took the checkered flag to claim his first career Nextel Cup win. The win earned Truex a spot in the Chase.
He is obviously hoping for a repeat today. Truex began the Chase as the seventh-seeded driver and gained a spot after a fifth-place finish last week. The native of Mayetta, N.J. considers Dover his home track.
Andretti says MMP could lure big races
TOOELE - Mario Andretti, perhaps the most recognized race car driver in the world, will have a message when he runs into his motorsports cronies as he travels the world making appearances for Texaco and working on a handful of his other business ventures.
There's this new road course race track in Utah "that you have got to see to believe," Andretti says.
Of course, the famed, semi-retired racer is talking about Miller Motorsports Park, having visited the facility last weekend to be the grand marshal for the Sunchaser 1000, a stop on the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Andretti gave the command to start engines for the Saturday endurance race, drove a Ford GT to lead the parade lap and waved the green flag, among other activities.
He said he is "surprised" that officials from the two primary open-wheel series in the United States - Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series - haven't expressed more interest in making MMP a stop on one of their circuits.
"I am surprised that they haven't really looked at this, to be honest with you," he told The Salt Lake Tribune in an exclusive interview. "With a facility of this caliber, you would think the top categories of racing would want to be here. The thing [MMP] probably suffers from is not enough people know that it is here. . . . I am very, very impressed. They deserve to have the top categories of racing here."
It was Andretti's first visit to the state-of-the-art facility.
Racing fans know all about his unmatched record of success.
He is the only man ever to win the Formula One World Championship, the Champ Car National Championship (four times), the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring (three times) and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Speaking of the 24 Hours, Andretti, 67, said in his introductory press conference that he would still like to compete in the famed endurance race one more time. He said he would like to team with his son, Michael Andretti, and his grandson, Marco Andretti, in the race next year.
"I have been trying to get that done for quite some time, and I am not getting any younger," he said. "The biggest problem I have is convincing Michael. He thinks that I am too old and he thinks that he might have to do all the work for me.
"It's [being discussed], I just have to get Michael to agree to it. He's my biggest problem right now."
Asked if he had heard much about MMP, Andretti, who still has a full head of hair, joked, "I was warned about this facility and [its] infrastructure, and to bring a lot of hairspray" because it tends to be windy in Utah's west desert.
He said it is difficult to say whether the track would ever land a Champ Car or IRL event, but he believes it has a better chance with those series than with an upper-level NASCAR event such as Craftsman Trucks or the Busch Series because NASCAR tends to favor the tracks it owns for those events.
"It isn't so much [market size] as it is about what it will attract," he said. "People will travel great distances for events. What the drawing power of this particular venue is, I don't know. It is all about economics, ultimately."
While at the track, Andrettii was reunited with the Ford Mk IV that he co-drove with the late Bruce McLaren to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1967. He also signed his photo on the Wall of Legends in Legends Hall and amazed fans with stories about all of the 43 racing legends depicted on the wall.
He also took a couple of hot laps around the 4.486-mile full course in one of the track's race-readied Mustang Challenge cars.
"It's a challenging course because of its length," he said. "You have to really know what's in front of you because you don't have many reference points, which is a great challenge as far as I'm concerned."
Racing legend Mario Andretti says Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele could attract IRL or Champ Car races.
1. Jeff Gordon
Back into tie for lead after one Chase race
2. Jimmie Johnson
Competition for Cup is stronger this year
3. Tony Stewart
Smoke finished third, then shined in front of media
4. Clint Bowyer
Got his first win and showed some personality
5. Carl Edwards
Eighth at New Hampshire not good enough
6. Matt Kenseth
He's always in the top 10, but wins getting rare
7. Martin Truex Jr.
Showed he will be a force with a fifth-place finish
8. Kyle Busch
Isn't fading like the wags said he would
9. Kurt Busch
Engine problems at New Hampshire troublesome
10. Denny Hamlin
Looking to rekindle his Dover magic
NEXT RACE: Dodge Dealers 400 v WHERE: Dover, Del. v WHEN: TODAY, 11:30 a.m. v TV: Ch. 4 v RADIO: 860 AM, 107.5 FM