Open Race Thread: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 | Dover International Speedway

DOVER, DE - SEPTEMBER 30: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives on track during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 30, 2011 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dover might be the most perplexing race in the Chase for the Championship.

And this is after watching two races marred by surprise winners, fuel-mileage gambles and a near-inversion of the Sprint Cup's top 12 championship contenders.

Five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson is sitting tenth in the standings, his worse ever start (by that metric) to a playoff run in his eight Chase starts.  Meanwhile, the once winless and much-scrutinized Tony Stewart somehow won the first two Chase races and now has a seven-point lead over Kevin Harvick.

And that's just recapping the first two races and not even discussing the struggles of Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.

And now, Dover.

Perplexing for several reasons, the first of which is that the Monster Mile is prone to fuel-mileage finishes much like those previously seen at Chicagoland and New Hampshire.

Second is that Dover is a one-mile circuit with none of the features of a traditional short track. This makes predicting how the course will run quite the challenge for 43 crew chiefs, 11 of which are still in the running for a Sprint Cup championship.

(See what we just did? Sorry Mike Ford but you're toast.)

The Monster Mile will likely determine who's serious about contending for a championship and which of the non-contenders are serious about spoiling the Chasers' runs.

One of those possible spoilers, Martin Truex Jr., returned home and to the site of his only career Cup Series win with a pole and a lap time of 159.004 mph (22.641 seconds) just edging Kurt Busch (158.983 mph) for the top starting spot.

Paul Menard (158.667 mph) qualified third, followed by Chase drivers Carl Edwards (158.555 mph) and Kyle Busch (158.548 mph).

Chase leader Tony Stewart will start 28th. Kevin Harvick, second in the standings, seven points behind Stewart, starts 22nd.

A complete starting lineup can be found on the other side, just above the comments section.

Let's rock!

Starting Line Up by Row
Dover International Speedway
42nd Annual AAA 400
Provided by NASCAR Statistics - Sat, October 01, 2011 @ 03:02 PM Eastern
Track Race Record: Mark Martin 09/21/97 03:00:50 132.719
Row Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1 1 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 22.641 159.004
2 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge 22.644 158.983
2 3 27 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints / Menards Chevrolet 22.689 158.667
4 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 22.705 158.555
3 5 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota 22.706 158.548
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 22.712 158.507
4 7 43 A J Allmendinger Best Buy Ford 22.723 158.430
8 47 Bobby Labonte grilling.com / Kingsford Toyota 22.738 158.325
5 9 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 22.744 158.284
10 16 Greg Biffle 3M / Cubitron Ford 22.761 158.165
6 11 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 22.801 157.888
12 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 22.826 157.715
7 13 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 22.829 157.694
14 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 22.831 157.680
8 15 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge 22.832 157.673
16 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 22.832 157.673
9 17 5 Mark Martin GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 22.849 157.556
18 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford 22.857 157.501
10 19 6 David Ragan UPS Ford 22.866 157.439
20 39 Ryan Newman US Army ROTC Chevrolet 22.878 157.356
11 21 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet 22.901 157.198
22 29 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chasing the Cure Chevrolet 22.905 157.171
12 23 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 22.924 157.041
24 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 22.935 156.965
13 25 51 Landon Cassill(i) Phoenix Construction / Thank A Teacher 22.956 156.822
26 37 Josh Wise(i) MaxQ Motorsports Ford 22.960 156.794
14 27 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet 22.964 156.767
28 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 22.965 156.760
15 29 46 Scott Speed(i) Red Line Oil / International Ford 23.005 156.488
30 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 23.013 156.433
16 31 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Chevrolet 23.040 156.250
32 55 Travis Kvapil(i) Front Row Motorsports Ford 23.043 156.230
17 33 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota 23.068 156.060
34 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 23.082 155.966
18 35 66 Michael McDowell HP Racing Toyota 23.097 155.864
36 34 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 23.120 155.709
19 37 71 Andy Lally # Interstate Moving Services Ford 23.132 155.629
38 7 Reed Sorenson(i) SPEED Energy / MAPEI / Menards Dodge 23.136 155.602
20 39 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota 23.158 155.454
40 32 Mike Bliss(i) Street King Ford 23.170 155.373
21 41 36 Dave Blaney Golden Corral Chevrolet 23.227 154.992
42 87 Joe Nemechek(i) AM FM Energy Toyota 23.263 154.752
22 43 38 J J Yeley Drive Sober. Arrive Alive Ford 23.273 154.686

 

Did Not Qualify: # 60 Mike Skinner(i).
Manufacturer Starting Lineup DNQs Manufacturer Starting Lineup DNQs
Chevrolet 16 0 Ford 13 0

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