June 3, 2012 in Sports

Drivers differ in feelings about Dover

David Scott Charlotte (N.C.) Observer

DOVER, Del. – Carl Edwards was feeling pretty good about himself when he raced for the first time on Dover International Speedway’s concrete surface.

Edwards was in his second season in NASCAR’s Truck Series in 2003, driving a plain white Dodge with no sponsorship decals, adorned only with a No. 99.

“I had been practicing on my computer and watched videos and worn out guys like Jeff Burton, Kurt (Busch) and Mark (Martin) and all those guys that had a lot of laps like (Greg) Biffle,” said Edwards on Friday. “The first 20 laps (of practice), we were awesome.”

As Edwards drove, he thought to himself: “Man, I’ve got this place. This isn’t so bad.”

But then the tricky nature of Dover – site of today’s Sprint Cup race – showed itself.

Edwards lost control on the front straightaway and slammed into the wall, destroying the truck.

“(It) hit so hard, I thought I broke my ribs,” Edwards said. “I hit it a ton.”

Running a backup truck in the race, things didn’t go any better. He wrecked out after eight laps.

“That was the low point of the season,” Edwards said. “I just didn’t respect this place and what it could do to you so quickly.”

Dover’s Monster Mile oval layout, with its steep banking and curves, is among NASCAR’s more challenging tracks. Add to that the different surface – it is one of two tracks (along with Bristol) that is concrete instead of asphalt – and there are lots of adjustments to be made.

Edwards has actually grown to like Dover, where he has won a Cup race and three Nationwide events. He has also won two Cup races, one Nationwide race and one Truck race on Bristol’s concrete. Nashville Superspeedway, another concrete track (now closed), was good to Edwards as well. He won five Nationwide races and one Truck race there.

“I’ve had some bad runs on concrete, too,” Edwards said. “If you are off (at Dover), it is so treacherous and so tough. There is no driver that can drive a bad car to a win at these places. I think you have to have a good car and then you have to drive it well.”

Driving on concrete is always a struggle for some drivers.

“I don’t really like concrete tracks at all,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “There’s nothing I can do about the surface.

“You just kind of come in here and try to make the best of what you don’t like about it.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email