Martin ready to tackle Monster Mile
Not many drivers consider Dover International Speedway their favorite track.
Mark Martin isn't like many drivers.
The ultra-fit Martin considers the physically demanding Monster Mile his favorite track on the circuit and heads to the concrete bull ring this weekend in the same car Tony Stewart drove to victory in June. It will be Martin's 55th start at Dover, where he has four wins and a series-best eight runner-up finishes.
"I love the way you can attack the racetrack. I like the banking. I like the shape of it. I've just always enjoyed it," Martin said.
Sunday's AAA 400 is a key race in the Sprint Cup Series' Chase for the Championship.
Martin's success at Dover could be because of his fitness training, which Martin detailed in a 1994 book, Strength Training for Performance Driving.
Martin admits Dover is tough on a driver.
"For the size of the racetrack, the speeds are really high at Dover. The grip level is really high. And because of the banking, the g-forces are pretty high on you," he said. "The nature of the racetrack allows you to drive aggressively and slip and slide some. The concrete, specifically, the seams in the concrete, cause the car to kind of snap around here and there."
"All of that makes Dover a more physical racetrack because you have to put so much work into each lap. In fact, you can overdrive the car at Dover and not pay a price for it."
Earnhardt on Truex
From afar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has watched Martin Truex Jr.'s body language to see how his former teammate is handling the fallout from Michael Waltrip Racing's race-fixing fiasco at Richmond.
He has had a much closer view of the toll it has taken on Clint Bowyer, who triggered the entire controversy when he spun in the Sept. 7 race with seven laps remaining. NASCAR said it could not prove the spin was intentional; if Bowyer admits that, he risks retroactive penalties.
NASCAR did have evidence that MWR attempted to manipulate the finish of the race to get Truex into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. It issued harsh sanctions against the organization that included knocking Truex out of the Chase. In response, Truex sponsor NAPA Auto Parts said it is ending its association with the team at the end of the year.
"It's almost been as hard to watch Clint go through this as it has been to watch Truex go through it, because Clint is a good guy and obviously was just following orders," Earnhardt said. "He did some things that were out of character and regrettable, and he feels terrible to have any involvement in it. I know that for a fact. I know that to be genuine."
"It's been tough watching him go through that process, too, because he's not that kind of guy to go starting that kind of mess."
Sprint Cup at Dover
The NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA 400 will run Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Schedule: Friday, practice (Fox Sports 1, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), qualifying (ESPN, 3-4:30 p.m.); Saturday, practice (Fox Sports 2, 11 a.m.-noon); Sunday, 2 p.m. (ESPN, 1-6 p.m.).
Last year: Brad Keselowski raced to the last of his five 2012 victories en route to the season title. Keselowski failed to qualify for the Chase this season.
Fast facts: Matt Kenseth has a 14-point lead in the Chase for the Championship over Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson (18 points back) is third, followed by Carl Edwards (-36), Greg Biffle (-38), Kevin Harvick (-39), and Kurt Busch (-40). ... Kenseth has two victories at the track, the last in the 2011 spring race.