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

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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