KURT BUSCH – 2018 Dover I Race Report

Event:               AAA 400 Drive for Autism(Round 11 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (120 laps/120 laps/160 laps)
Start/Finish:      9th/5th(Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  6th(358points, 108out of first) 

Race Winner:    Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-120): 

  • Kurt Buschstarted ninth and finished fifth to score six bonus points.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion was a little loose early on.
  • Busch pitted for four tires and fuel under caution on lap 23.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 121-240): 

  • Buschstarted ninth and finished 18th.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on lap 122 for four tires and fuel, but an uncontrolled tire forced Busch to the rear of the field.
  • On lap 154 Busch pitted for four tires and fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 241-400): 

  • Started 12thand finished fifth.
  • Busch pitted on lap 243 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
  • On lap 272, under caution, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.
  • After a red-flag delay for weather, the No. 41 pitted on lap 323 for four tires and fuel.
  • Busch worked his way into the top-five late and finished an impressive fifth. 


  • Busch now has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in 2018.
  • Busch has finished in the top-15 in seven of the last eight races in 2018.
  • Busch earned his eighth top-five and 10thtop-10 in 36 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Dover.
  • Busch finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points and 11thin Stage 2.
  • There were eight caution periods for a total of 48 laps.
  • Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism finished on the lead lap.
  • Kevin Harvick won the AAA 400 Drive for Autism to score his second victory, sixth top-five and 16thtop-10 in 35 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Dover. It was his 41stcareer victory.
  • Clint Bowyer finished second in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism to secure the fourth 1-2 finish in SHR history. Its last 1-2 finish came on June 25, 2017, at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway when Harvick beat Bowyer.
  • This marks the first time SHR has had three cars finish among the top-five. 

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It’s all about the team effort. Good day for us. The way that the pit stops went we had to come back from a penalty. Restarts went fair the early part of the race and went good in the latter part. Those restarts are close quarters, and you need to grab spots then. These cars are really aero-sensitive. Thanks to Haas Automation, Monster Energy and Ford we had a top-five day.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the KC Masterpiece 400 on Saturday, May 12 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 8 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 beginning with a prerace show at 7 p.m.


COLE CUSTER – 2018 Dover Race Report

Cole Custer Finishes 13th at Dover

Haas Automation Driver Battles In and Around Top-10

Date: May 5, 2018
Event: OneMain Financial 200 (Round 10 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
Start/Finish: 36th/13th(Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 6thwith 323 points

Race Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner:  Elliott Sadler of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner:  Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

  • Custer started 36th, finished 11th.
  • Custer piloted the Haas AutomationFord inside the top-15 before a lap-30 caution.
  • He battled inside the top-10 during the closing laps, but noted tight-handling conditions and fell to 11thplace.
  • Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments at the conclusion of Stage 1.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):

  • Custer started 12th, finished 17th.
  • Custer was caught in traffic during the restart and fought in and around the top-10 for the majority of the stage.
  • During a lap-79 caution, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to restart 21st.
  • Custer preserved the tires of his Haas Automation Mustang and did not pit after Stage 2 concluded.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

  • Custer started fifth, finished 13th.
  • Custer sustained damage to his left-rear quarter panel on lap 101 after contact with another competitor, pushing him back to 14th.
  • He pitted during a lap-130 caution for four tires, fuel and adjustments to correct tight-handling conditions.
  • Custer restarted 10th and raced from the ninth position until he was caught in traffic and forced outside of the top-10.
  • He drove his Haas Automation Ford to the 13thposition before the race concluded.


  • This was Custer’s third NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Dover.
  • Eight cautions slowed the race for 45laps.
  • Only 23of the 40drivers finished on the lead lap.
  • No NASCAR Cup Series drivers were entered in the OneMain Financial 200.
  • Justin Allgaier won the OneMain 200 to score his sixth career Xfinity Series victory, his first of the season and first at Dover. His margin of victory over second-place Elliott Sadler was .306of a second.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing With Biagi-DenBeste:   

“It was the most frustrating day ever. We had a pretty fast car. We had no track position all day and no restarts went our way. That’s just part of it. We’ll move on to the next one. I think we were really fast today and our Haas Automation team was on top of it. It’s just frustrating when you’re caught in bad situations so much.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Dover I Race Advance

Jimmy John’s returns to the hood of Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Fusion as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this weekend. Jimmy John’s prides itself on being “Freaky Fast” and that certainly fits the concrete oval known as the Monster Mile.

Harvick and the No. 4 team have performed their best this season when the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has Jimmy John’s on the hood and Freaky Fast on the side. In fact, all three of Harvick’s Cup Series wins – at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix – have come with Jimmy John’s as the primary partner.

In terms of pure speed, Harvick has been one of the fastest at Dover since joining SHR in 2014, scoring one win, one pole, two top-five finishes and three top-10s. What is more impressive is that he has led 810 of 2,805 laps in eight races there – nearly 38.9 percent of the total laps raced at Dover since the beginning of 2014. Martin Truex Jr. ranks second during that span with 518 laps led – 292 laps fewer than Harvick.

Harvick’s most impressive Monster Mile performance came in October 2015, when the No. 4 team arrived at Dover ranked 15th in the playoff standings and trailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 23 points for the final transfer position into the Round of 12. A solid finish wouldn’t do – Harvick needed a win to advance. With everything on the line, he delivered the most dominant race of his NASCAR Cup Series career. He started 15th after Friday qualifying was cancelled due to rain, but he quickly raced his way to the front and led 355 of 400 laps to beat runner-up Kyle Busch to the finish line by 2.639 seconds.

According to NASCAR Stats and Information, he registered a 149.7 driver rating out of a possible 150.0, narrowly missing his fourth perfect driver rating in a NASCAR Cup Series race. He previously registered perfect 150.0 driver ratings at Phoenix on three occasions – November 2006 and 2014, and March 2015.

However, luck has not always been on the side of the No. 4 team at Dover.

In June 2014, Harvick started eighth and led 24 laps, but finished 17th as the first car one lap down after he had a valve stem issue during a pit stop that caused a tire to go down on the following restart.

He won the pole at Dover in September 2014, when he turned a lap of 22.095 seconds at 162.933 mph in the second round of qualifying. On race day, he stayed at the front of the field for 223 laps but had to settle for a 13th-place finish after another valve stem issue led to a flat tire following a pit stop and caused him to fall a lap down to the leaders.

Harvick started from the pole after qualifying was rained out in May 2016. He led 117 laps early in the race before he was caught in an 18-car accident and finished one lap down in 15th.

The 2014 Cup Series champion has been one of the best in the field when it comes to Cup Series qualifying in 2018, scoring his first Busch Pole of the season last week at Talladega and starting in the top-10 in nine of the 10 races this season. The lone exception was Bristol, where he did not participate in qualifying after an accident during practice.

Harvick has also been Freaky Fast on race day in 2018. He has a series-best 540 laps led and is tied for the series lead with three wins and seven top-five finishes through the first 10 races. He is ranked second with 12 playoff points and third in regular-season points with 366. This weekend at Dover, he hopes to score some additional playoff points in his pursuit of a second Cup Series championship once the playoffs start in September.


KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


Describe what it’s like to take a lap around Dover.

“Dover is the racetrack where you feel the sensation of speed more than anything. It’s a place where you drop off into the corner and slam into a lot of banking and then, as you come out of the corner, it’s kind of like jumping out of a hole and up onto the straightaway. It’s a really fun place to race. You feel that sensation of speed and you can be really aggressive.”

Why is Dover one of the more challenging racetracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule?

“I think as you look at Dover, if you look at our history, when I was at RCR (Richard Childress Racing), it was probably one of our worst racetracks. It’s been one of our best since I came to SHR in 2014. For me, the thing I love about Dover is just the fact it’s hammer down and you’re up on top of the wheel for 400 laps there. It’s violent. Everything about Dover is violent. It’s fast. You can just be aggressive with the car and you have to get in there and wrestle that thing all day because it’s bumpy, slings you up out of the corners, dumps you down in the corners, and there’s just a lot going on. The car is bouncing around a lot and, with as rough as the cars have been just as the ride goes, we are in for a rough ride when we get to Dover this weekend. It’s one of my favorite racetracks to go and race on.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Dover I Race Advance

Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this weekend coming off of his fourth top-10 result this season. This weekend’s stop at Dover, affectionately known as the “Monster Mile,” marks the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season in the northeast region of the United States.

Almirola heads to the Delmarva Peninsula Thursday morning to participate in Artie Kempner’s Drive for Autism Awareness golf tournament, marking the 17th year of the celebrity pro-am event that is Autism Delaware’s largest single fundraiser.

A No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion will greet fans at the Monster Monument in Victory Plaza as they enter the front grounds of the Delaware track. A replica of the Almirola’s racecar was hoisted 46 feet off the ground and into Miles the Monster’s right hand April 17 as part of a media and fan event at the track.

Sunday, Almirola and team SHR co-owner Tony Stewart will gather in front of Miles to unveil a customized street car as part of Smithfield’s Ford Mustang giveaway promotion. Almirola and Stewart will both be made available to the media beginning at 11:15 a.m. EDT. Fans can enter for their chance to win the Mustang designed by Stewart with the help of drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. They built a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. Fans can begin registering Sunday for their chance to win the supped-up Mustang and a trip to November’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com.

Fans also continue to have the opportunity to enter Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch last week to kick off the summer grilling season. Almirola and Stone launched Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” campaign, in which fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling.com. One “Hero of the Grill” nominee will win $5,000. Plus, the first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to see their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September.

Dover marks the ninth weekend the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

The concrete mile oval at Dover, with a horse track circling inside it, is one of Almirola’s favorite tracks on the circuit to pilot his 3,300-pound stock car around. He’s accumulated two top-five finishes and three top-10s there, and has completed 98.6 percent of all possible laps in 11 starts. SHR has two victories at Dover – Stewart in June 2013 and Kevin Harvick in October 2015 – and has amassed five top-fives and 15 top-10s in 54 starts.

Almirola, the Tampa native, has four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Dover and finished inside the top-15 each time. He has two starts in the Camping World Truck Series at Dover, capturing his second NASCAR national series win by driving a Truck into victory lane there in May 2010. His only other Dover start in the series resulted in a 12th-place finish.

Ford has earned 25 all-time Cup Series wins at Dover. Last weekend’s win at Talladega Superspeedway by Ford driver Joey Logano gave the blue oval a series-best five victories this season, with four of those being earned by SHR – Harvick has three wins and Clint Bowyer one.


ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What’s it like to race at Dover?

“Really, really high banking and it’s just a fun place to go to. Dover is the one place we go where we are running 170 mph but it feels like you’re going 300 mph. The sensation of speed at Dover is incredible.”

Are you having fun this year?

“I’m having a blast. I’m having the time of my life. Every time I get on the airplane, I have a shot to win. The SHR organization from the top down is incredible. The amount of people who go every day to the shop to figure out how to make the cars go faster is amazing.”

How do you stay motivated as a driver?

“It’s all self-driven. I’ll go and rewatch the old race footage of the racetrack that we’re going to. I’ll look at my driver data and compare it to my teammates. I write notes every single weekend, throughout the weekend. I’ll log it into my laptop and, after the race is over, I’ll go in and write a race report about how the race went, what happened in the race, how I thought the track changed, how the line changed and my driving style changed to adapt to the changing track conditions. I go in and write very detailed reports after practices and the race, and then I’ll study that leading into the next event at the track.”

COLE CUSTER – 2018 Dover I Race Advance

Event:               OneMain Financial 200 (Round 10 of 33)
Date:                 May 5, 2018
Location:          Dover (Del.) International Speedway
Layout:             Concrete mile oval

Cole Custer Notes of Interest


  • The OneMain Financial 200 will be Custer’s third NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and eighth overall start at the concrete mile oval. 
  • Custer is competing for his eighth consecutive top-10 finish of the season and third consecutive top-10 at Dover. He ranks second in the series in top-10s this season.
  • Last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Custer charged to second place on the final lap but was shuffled to ninth before the checkered flag.
  • No Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are eligible to race in the OneMain Financial 200 Xfinity Series race at Dover.
  • Custer’s best finish in the eight Xfinity Series races run this season is his fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
  • Custer has one win, two poles, nine top-five finishes, 28 top-10s and has led 350 laps in 47 career Xfinity Series starts. 
  • Custer is fifth in the Xfinity Series driver standings with 299 points, 57 behind leader Elliot Sadler.
  • Custer has earned two pole awards, seven consecutive top-10s, one top-five and has led 48 laps thus far in 2018.
  • The top-four finishers in last weekend’s Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega are eligible for the Dash 4 Cash at Dover. The top finisher of the four drivers will win a $100,000 cash prize. Custer competed in the Dash 4 Cash at Bristol but was five positions short at Talladega to qualify this weekend. 
  • In Custer’s seven overall starts at Dover, three are in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, two are in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and two are in the Xfinity Series. Custer’s best overall finish at Dover is fourth, earned in the 2017 Xfinity Series race June 3.
  • In the 2015 Truck Series race at Dover, Custer led 67 laps and ran in and around the top-five until lap 138, when a fueling issue pushed him off the lead lap in 13th place, where he would ultimately finish the race.
  • In 47 Xfinity Series starts, 42 Camping World Truck Series starts and 29 K&N Pro Series starts since 2015, Custer has five wins, eight poles, 14 top-five finishes, 29 top-10s and 962 laps led at tracks that are a mile in length or shorter.


Cole Custer, Driver Q&A


You came so close to winning with one lap to go at Talladega last weekend. Do you feel like you are creeping up on a win?

“I think we’ve been building momentum to win a race all year, so hopefully Dover is the place we can put it all together and it’s a place everyone wants to win at. We are pretty solid in the standings now, so we’re able to be more aggressive when it counts. The fact that I was able to compete for a win last weekend was incredible, and we’re hoping to do it again this weekend.”

Dover is the last Dash 4 Cash race of the season with no Cup Series drivers entered. Do you feel this may be your last chance for a shot at a win until the standalone races?

“Just because Cup drivers aren’t in the race doesn’t mean it’s easy to win, but Dover should be a good track for us to compete for one. We finished fourth behind three Cup drivers last year so, theoretically, we have a great shot at winning if we run just as well.”

The short-track program is improving, as we saw at Richmond and Bristol. Is Dover the one to win?

“We’ve had a lot of improvements at tracks this year and I think Dover will be another one. We have some good ideas of how to make our Haas Automation Mustangs a little faster and a lot more notes to go off of. It’s been great to run up front at a few of these short tracks, too, and it has taught me a lot.”

Describe a qualifying lap at Dover.

“You come in shaking. It’s pretty crazy. You’re getting all that you can out of it and you’re just on edge the whole time. It’s so fast for such a small place.”


Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A 


There’s no arguing that you have unloaded fast Haas Automation Fords every weekend – especially at short tracks. To what do you attribute the success at short tracks this year?

“Short tracks are all unique in size, shape and banking. You have to develop individual setups for each track, where a lot of the intermediate tracks we go to take a fairly similar setup and you can transfer things you learn from one track to the other. It definitely takes longer to build a good short-track notebook, but we’re getting there.”

What car are you bringing to Dover?

“We are bringing Chassis No. 1044, which was last run in Kansas at the end of last season. Cole ran in second for a while until he cut a tire at the end of the race. It was definitely a fast car and one we’re confident to bring to Dover.”

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Dover I Race Advance

Coming out of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kurt Busch is now a member of the Two-Five Club.

Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega behind winner Joey Logano. That puts him fifth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings. Thus – two spot in the race finish order, five spot in the standings – the entry into the Two-Five Club.

Sunday’s runner-up finish was Busch’s best since October 2017 at Kansas Speedway, and his points position is his best since March 2017, when he was second after the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Busch and crew chief Billy Scott have one top-five finish, four top-10s and seven top-15s in 10 races. They also qualified on the pole in track-record time at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Now they head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the fast, high-banked, concrete oval.

Busch has one win, seven top-fives and nine top-10s at Dover. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 426 laps, has an average starting position of 11.6, an average finish of 18.7, and has completed 92.5 percent (12,962 of 14,015) of the laps he’s contested there.

He scored a huge win in October 2011, when he started second and led 90 of 400 laps. Busch grabbed the lead from Jimmie Johnson on the final restart and paced the final 42 circuits to win by .908 of a second over Johnson.

Busch and Scott are proud members of the Two-Five Club. But they would love to advance to the One-One Club – one victory and number one in the point standings.


KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


Can you talk about your strategy this year with crew chief Billy Scott? You have a lot of stage points this year and last year you seem to leave a lot on the table.

“Yeah, I felt like the first stage was my weak area last year and it was how we would start the race on the scuffed tires. We have really approached it differently this year and Billy (Scott) made me aware of some cool things to do. To be able to run hard at the beginning of the race and not sacrifice anything toward that second stage. Overall this year, Billy has done a great job with the car handling at the beginning of the race. Now we need to parlay that and make good adjustments throughout the race to capitalize with a strong finish.”


SHR seems to be the flagship team for Ford this year. How has that performance helped your performance this year?

“It has been a good balance all the way through on how the cars are built with Tony Gibson now as a shop foreman to all four teams. Any time you can put a current crew chief at the race shop seven days a week, it will benefit the program. That is where we have been stronger. Also, getting our arms wrapped around the Ford balance with some of the torque levels in the engine and some of the downforce levels on the aerodynamic side. Right now, everything is clicking on all eight cylinders. It is a good feeling. Even though my little brother is the hottest guy on the circuit with his three wins, (SHR’s Kevin) Harvick also has three. We have been knocking on the door and it is just a matter of time. We just have to stay consistent and focused and I really like the chemistry I have with Billy Scott.”


What is it about Dover that makes it such a challenging racetrack, and what do you have to do to be successful there? 

“The tough thing about Dover is things happen so quickly. At any moment, at any time, somebody can spin in front of you or you can lose control off the corners and you are going to wreck. There is no real forgiveness about Dover. That is what makes it tough. To be good there, you have to be good on corner exit. The track really rubbers in so you can see the concrete change to black as the weekend progresses. On corner exit, you get really tight or really loose. The time I won there, I could almost hold it wide open on corner exit. That is what you’ve got to have.”


Do you feel it has earned its nickname?

“It’s called the Monster Mile for a reason – the track can chew up cars and spit them out. It’s because of those tough transitions into the corners with the high banking and even the high-banked straightaways. It’s tough to do that sharp of a turn on a mile racetrack. It’s like you literally jump down into the corner and then jump back up out of the corner onto the straightaway, and so those points of the track are the toughest part – the transition from straightaway to corner. It’s a fun track to drive.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Dover I Race Advance

Clint Bowyer threw the monkey off his back at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March, when he ended a winless streak and claimed his ninth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and first since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2017.

With the monkey gone, he’ll turn his attention this weekend to conquering a monster named Miles.

Bowyer hopes by whipping Miles the Monster – Dover (Del.) International Speedway’s 46-foot-tall mascot – he’ll capture his first Cup Series victory on the concrete, high-banked mile oval. Bowyer knows it’s not going to be easy winning at the track the NASCAR world calls the “Monster Mile.”

“Dover is fun but, I’m telling you, you are going to work hard for it,” said Bowyer who will pilot the No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford at Dover. “You’ve got to fight this ‘monster’ every lap. I won a couple of Xfinity races there — haven’t won a Cup race — but love this racetrack. It’s very demanding and (we’ve) been getting better as a team, I feel, like each and every week. Maybe we can get us another one in Dover.”

As he said, Bowyer isn’t a stranger to victory lane at the 49-year-old track.

He owns two Xfinity Series victories. He led 70 laps and beat Matt Kenseth by .547 of a second on Sept. 23, 2006 to win his third of what would be eight Xfinity Series victories in his career. His most recent Xfinity victory also came at Dover Sept. 26, 2009 when he led 83 laps and beat Mike Bliss to the checkered flag by 1.319 seconds.

In 24 Cup Series races at Dover, Bowyer owns two top-five finishes and 13 top-10s while leading 43 laps. In 2017, Bowyer showed he still knows how to get around Dover. After starting 22nd in the June race, he ran as high as fourth until lap 97, when his crew noticed a mechanical issue while he was pitting under caution. He drove to the garage for repairs, putting him 18 laps down and leaving him with a 31st-place finish. In the October race, Bowyer started 19th and climbed to sixth in the final stage, often turning some of the fastest laps of the race.

Bowyer arrives at Dover after his worst finish of the season when a late-race accident ruined what appeared to be a sure top-10 finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. After falling two laps behind the leaders in the early going, Bowyer battled back to return to the lead lap and raced in the top-15 when a multicar accident with less than 25 laps left ended his race.

Despite the Talladega disappointment, it’s been a resurgent year for Bowyer. After 10 races in 2018, Bowyer has posted a win, two top-fives and six top-10s. He’s fourth in points, 112 out of first. The entire four-car SHR team is running well in 2018, having posted four victories, two poles, 10 top-fives and 22-top 10s, and the SHR Fords have led 1,018 of 3,235 laps.

The 2018 season marks the 10th anniversary of SHR. The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and has recorded 43 victories and 35 poles since its inception in 2009. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Kevin Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won last year’s Daytona 500, and Harvick has won three times in 2018 to go with Bowyer’s victory this season.

SHR has two victories at Dover (Stewart in June 2013 and Harvick in October 2015) and has five top-fives and 15 top-10s in 54 starts.

“We are hitting on all eight cylinders right now,” Bowyer said. “We aren’t satisfied by any means, but everyone at SHR is running well in 2018. We want to get better and win more races.”


CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


How important is experience at Dover?

 “I’m telling you, this is one of the toughest tracks I went to the first time I came, but it’s a demanding racetrack. Here’s the thing about this track – it’s hard enough to get around here by yourself, then you get to racing somebody and now you get frustrated and it’s so easy to get yourself in trouble on that racetrack. That being said, I think younger drivers get themselves in trouble in racing conditions on this demanding racetrack.”