Commentary

Gettin' Rowdy in Dover seems like best possible option

The Eliminator: Dover

Updated: May 30, 2008, 12:09 PM ET
By Matthew Willis | ESPN.com

As "SportsCenter" anchor John Buccigross would say … Ryan Newman … normally good.

Newman, who had won a pole in half of his previous races at Charlotte, qualified 38th. We didn't see a whole lot of him during the race, and he ended up with a pretty mediocre finish.

But that doesn't mean that people don't love the Eliminator -- look at these e-mails from some of the Eliminator's fans, friends and family members.

Dear Eliminator,

Do you crash fake matchbox cars together to see who will win each week's race?

Mark from C-Town

No, but that might be a better system than the one I'm using now. Remember last year when The Eliminator gave you J.J. Yeley? Street cred just went out the window.

Yo Eliminator,

What's up! Has there ever been any legal issues between you and the producers of American Gladiators because of the naming rights of their final round obstacle course?

Eric out of the 'Boro

Actually, I was credited with helping to revive the popularity of the American Gladiators. In my spare time, I also moonlight as a Gladiator … um, I'm the big one. I also drive an Atlasphere to work.

E-Lim,

Do your hands get tired from just picking names out of a hat?

Elimin-Hater

Hold on. These were the best fan letters I had?

Dear Eliminator,

You are so awesome. Your picks have done nothing short of inspire a nation during a troublesome time. When I look up into the heavens at night, the stars seem to spell out your name.

Your Biggest Fan, Matt Willis

Wait … that was my latest journal entry.

Moving on, it's actual Eliminator time. Using stats, streaks and trends, I will find reasons why every driver but one can't win Sunday's race at Dover. Process of elimination says that driver is going to end up in Victory Lane. Let's get it on. But first …

Trivia break: Martin Truex Jr. got his first career win at the Monster Mile last year, becoming only the second driver to break through at Dover. Who is the only other Cup driver to get his first win at Dover?

First of all, you know I love the streaks, and this one's a dandy. In the past 11 spring races at the Monster Mile, we've seen 11 different winners. Look for that to continue, and we'll take out all the previous winners, which includes four former series champions.

Next up, we saw a nice performance from a Dodge last week, as Kasey Kahne put the No. 9 back in Victory Lane, but don't expect a repeat performance. Dodge has struggled on its short-track program, and hasn't won a race on a track a mile or shorter since Kurt Busch in the spring race at Bristol in 2006. Let's take out the Dodges, which takes us down to 26.

Dover doesn't qualify as a short track, but it's darn close. However, don't expect to see a correlation between it and Martinsville. The past six winners of the spring race at Dover finished 24th or worse in the Martinsville race earlier in the season. That takes out a whopping 17 of our remaining 26 drivers, and we're down to single digits.

Hope you didn't get attached to those nine, because we're about to take out eight of them. The past three Dover race winners finished no worse than sixth in the most recent Dover race. We still had some shaky names on the list, but they're all gone, and let the cream rise to the top.

Trivia break: Truex joined Jody Ridley as the only drivers to get their first wins at Dover.

If anybody can tame the Monster Mile this week, it's points leader Kyle Busch. You can take the field, and The Eliminator will take Rowdy Busch because the numbers don't lie.

Eliminator breakdown
  1. There have been 11 different winners in the past 11 spring Dover races. (Nine drivers eliminated, 37 remaining)
    Drivers Eliminated: Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr.

  2. Dodge hasn't won on a track a mile or shorter in 23 races. (11 drivers eliminated, 26 remaining)
    Drivers Eliminated: Kurt Busch, Patrick Carpentier, Dario Franchitti, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., Kasey Kahne, Chad McCumbee, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Raines, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson.
  3. The past six spring Dover winners raced in and finished 24th or worse in the last Martinsville race. (17 drivers eliminated, nine remaining)

    Drivers Eliminated: A.J. Allmendinger, John Andretti, Clint Bowyer , Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Travis Kvapil, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Casey Mears, Joe Nemechek, David Ragan, Johnny Sauter, Regan Smith, Brian Vickers

  4. The past three Dover winners finished no worse than sixth in the last Dover race. (8 drivers eliminated, 1 remaining)
    Drivers Eliminated: Dave Blaney, Bill Elliott, David Gilliland, Michael McDowell, David Reutimann, Scott Riggs, Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley.
  5. And your winner is: Kyle Busch

Matt Willis is a studio researcher at ESPN.

ALSO SEE