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By the numbers: The 2013 Chasers at Dover

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Next up in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is the high-banked “Monster Mile” of Dover International Speedway, which will host Chase race No. 3 – the AAA 400.

Controversy struck in the series’ first visit to Dover back in June. In the closing laps, NASCAR found Jimmie Johnson to have jumped the final restart of the day with 19 laps to go and penalized him. That set up a fight between Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart, which the latter won by making what would be the race-winning pass with three laps remaining.

Among this year’s Chase contenders, Jeff Gordon led the group with a third-place finish with Kyle Busch in fourth after leading a race-high 150 laps. As for Johnson, he led 143 laps but wound up finishing 17th after the penalty.

Other Chasers in the Top 10 were Clint Bowyer in sixth, Joey Logano in seventh, Kevin Harvick in eighth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10th. Current Chase leader Matt Kenseth, who has opened the post-season with back-to-back wins at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, finished 40th after suffering an engine failure toward the halfway point.

Once again, here’s a look at how each Chaser has done over his career at this frenetic track. Note to all you fantasy racers: You might want to put a certain five-time Cup champion – and seven-time Dover winner – on your team this weekend.

MATT KENSETH (Leader – 2,111 points)
Two wins, 13 Top-5s, 18 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.6 in 29 races
Average Running Position: 9.4, second-best

KYLE BUSCH (second, -14 points)
Two wins, eight Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.3 in 17 races
Average Running Position: 11.2, sixth-best

JIMMIE JOHNSON (third, -18 points)
Seven wins, 11 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s
Average Finish: 9.0 in 23 races
Average Running Position: 7.1, series-best
*Series-high 5,862 Laps in the Top 15 (86.2%)

CARL EDWARDS (fourth, -36 points)
One win, eight Top-5s, 12 Top-10s
Average Finish: 8.6 in 18 races
Average Running Position: 10.3, third-best

GREG BIFFLE (fifth, -38 points)
Two wins, six Top-5s, 10 Top-10s
Average Finish: 12.5 in 22 races
Average Running Position: 10.7, fifth-best

KEVIN HARVICK (sixth, -39 points)
Three Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 15.6 in 25 races
Average Running Position: 16.0, 14th-best

KURT BUSCH (seventh, -40 points)
One win, six Top-5s, eight Top-10s
Average Finish: 18.1 in 26 races
Average Running Position: 12.7, eighth-best

JEFF GORDON (eighth, -42 points)
Four wins, 16 Top-5s, 23 Top-10s
Average Finish: 11.8 in 41 races
Average Running Position: 12.8, ninth-best

RYAN NEWMAN (ninth, -47 points)
Three wins, six Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
Average Finish: 13.1 in 23 races
Average Running Position: 12.7, seventh-best

CLINT BOWYER (tenth, -48 points)
One Top-5, eight Top-10s
Average Finish: 12.7 in 15 races
Average Running Position: 12.8, 10th-best

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (11th, -62 points)
One win, five Top-5s, nine Top-10s
Average Finish: 17.0 in 27 races
Average Running Position: 18.8, 20th-best

JOEY LOGANO (12th, -69 points)
One Top-5, five Top-10s
Average Finish: 16.8 in nine races
Average Running Position: 19.0, 21st-best

KASEY KAHNE (13th, -71 points)
One Top-5, five Top-10s
Average Finish: 21.5 in 19 races
Average Running Position: 16.9, 16th-best

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.