Commentary

Dover requires adjustments, making season's second crack at it telling

Dover International Speedway is a tricky place with a steep learning curve. That makes Saturday's Busch Series race -- the second of the season there -- a telling one, writes Rupen Fofaria.

Updated: September 20, 2007, 3:21 PM ET
By Rupen Fofaria | Special to ESPN.com

AROUND THE GARAGE

The Busch Series rookies have been around the circuit once by now. And this weekend, perhaps more than ever this season, it's going to show.

EDWARDS HITS CENTURY MARK

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards does not have the pressure of a points race in the Busch Series. There, he owns a 733-point lead. That'll help make Saturday's race a bit more leisurely for him. That, and the fact that it's a milestone.

"This will be my 100th Busch start this weekend," he said. "Racing on the Monster Mile is just awesome, it has high banking and the high speeds are exhilarating. We've had lots of success on concrete this year."

NEW DRIVER FOR 25

With David Gilliland's decision to focus on his Cup ride, Richard Johns will get to finish out the season in the Team Rensi Motorsports' No. 25 Ford. Johns also serves as Team Rensi's head engineer when not racing. Johns has posted two top 20s in eight starts.

YATES WINS APPEAL

Following an appeal by Roberts Yates Racing, NASCAR reduced a penalty levied on the Busch Series team. Earlier, NASCAR had docked driver Stephen Leicht and car owner Yates 25 points each, and fined crew chief Charles Barraclough $10,000, for violations to their front shock absorbers during the Montreal race weekend.

After hearing the appeal, the sanctioning body retained the points penalties but reduced the fine to $5,000 because there was a plausible explanation offered for one shock to be in violation but not the other.

Dover International Speedway is a finicky, mile-long stretch of concrete that takes getting used to. For some, adaptation comes naturally. For others, they're thankful for a second shot in Saturday's RoadLoans.com 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

"It makes it easier to prepare a car if the driver knows the nuances of a track," said Mike Kelley, crew chief for rookie David Ragan. "We need to work hard this week in preparation and make sure we get the most out of every practice session.

"Dover is a fast concrete track that can get the best of many drivers. We are going to ensure that doesn't happen with David. The progress David has made since the first Dover race is off the charts. I am confident David can run in the top 10 all day."

During his first spin around Dover, Marcos Ambrose looked like a vet. But he admitted there were major adjustments that day. This time around, with a brand-new package, he thinks he can win.

"I am really looking forward to coming back to Dover," he said. "We ran well there in June, but I think this team has really progressed since then and we have really been putting some work into our cars over the past few weeks."

Kelly Bires will prove a good case study. He wasn't around for the first jaunt around the Monster Mile, so he'll get his first crack this weekend. For him, it means he'll be at least a tick behind from the start.

"[You] have to get used to the track, take your time until you feel comfortable, then start making adjustments on it," he said. "You have to get laps under your belt in practice and slowly pace yourself on your adjustments. Once you get up to speed, then you can make bigger adjustments.

"Sometimes you go to a new track and think you need something right away, make a bunch of changes and wind up back where you started the day. You have to get some laps before you start making big changes. You really have to take it slow."

Rupen Fofaria has covered NASCAR for ESPN.com since 2002. He can be reached at rupenisracin@yahoo.com.