FORD PERFORMANCE: NASCAR DOVER NOTES
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series begins its summer swing this weekend as it heads to Dover International Raceway for Sunday’s event. For Performance has won 25 series events at the Monster Mile, but will be looking for its first since 2011.
THE FIRST TIME…Ford won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Raceway coincided with the very first event at the speedway in 1969 when Richard Petty drove to victory lane on July 6. That marked the only year in which The King drove a Ford and was the fourth of nine wins for him that season, and it came in dominating fashion as he led half of the 300 laps, including the final 109. It was a Ford day all-around as the Blue Oval led every lap in the race with Lee Roy Yarbrough (124) and David Pearson (26) combining to lead the ones Petty didn’t, and had nine of the top 11 finishers.
THE LAST TIME…Ford took the checkered flag in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover was on May 15, 2011 when Matt Kenseth led the final 32 laps en route to his second career victory at the Monster Mile. The win, which was the 20th of Kenseth’s career, was ultimately the result of a last-second pit stop in which he opted for two tires, instead of four. That decision enabled him to beat the other contenders off pit road and once he got in the clean air, he set sail and won handily over second-place Mark Martin and third-place Marcos Ambrose.
IN BETWEEN…Ford has won 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway, and some of those have been most memorable. First off had to involve the late Junie Donlavey, who won the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career at Dover on May 17, 1981 in the Mason-Dixon 500 when driver Jody Ridley took the checkered flag. Donlavey made 863 starts and fielded strictly Ford products from 1965-2002 in NASCAR’s top series that featured names like LeeRoy Yarbrough, Fred Lorenzen, Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader and Dick Trickle.
In 1997 Ford swept both Dover events, but it’s remembered for historical reasons because when Ricky Rudd won the spring event on June 1, it marked the speedway’s final 500-mile event. That made Mark Martin’s victory later in the fall the first time a winner had been crowned over the current 400-mile distance.
The last time Roush Fenway Racing finished 1-2-3 in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on Sept. 21, 2008 at Dover International Speedway when Greg Biffle edged Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards to the checkered flag. The victory was Biffle’s second straight to open the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after winning the opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway the previous week.
Mark Martin won three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fall races at Dover International Speedway from 1997-99 and four overall during his Ford tenure with car owner Jack Roush.
FORD RACING DOVER WINNERS
1969 – Richard Petty
1978 – Bobby Allison (2)
1980 – Bobby Allison (1)
1981 – Jody Ridley and Neil Bonnett
1985 – Bill Elliott
1986 – Ricky Rudd (2)
1987 – Davey Allison and Ricky Rudd
1988 – Bill Elliott (Sweep)
1990 – Bill Elliott (2)
1994 – Rusty Wallace (Sweep)
1997 – Ricky Rudd and Mark Martin
1998 – Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin
1999 – Mark Martin (2)
2004 – Mark Martin (1)
2005 – Greg Biffle (1)
2006 – Matt Kenseth (1)
2007 – Carl Edwards (2)
2008 – Greg Biffle (2)
2011 – Matt Kenseth (1)