Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Dover International Speedway|6/4/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice and Qualifying

“Friday is usually an unload day where you try to get a quick balance and switch over to qualifying trim. Qualifying is pretty important at Dover. It’s important everywhere, but seems to be a little more important at Dover. Pit selection is pretty tight as Dover is on the smaller side of pit boxes in our sport. The No. 41 (Kurt Busch) car was pretty fast there right off the truck. The Nos. 4 (Kevin Harvick) and 14 (Clint Bowyer) cars were okay, but struggled a bit. They were just missing something. The same goes with the No. 10 (Danica Patrick) car where she just struggled with the overall balance and grip of the car in qualifying trim.

“Dover is one of those racetracks that tends to lose a little grip as time goes on. If you can go out and pretty much back up your speed from practice, that’s pretty good. We go to some racetracks where you pick up three to five tenths of a second, so you have to guess what your cars are going to do when you run it that much faster. It’s a handful to qualify at Dover.

“You have to constantly adjust and bleed your tires down and try to add grip to run as fast as you did in practice. It’s such high loads and the track is so fast that it takes one little hiccup to kill your lap. At a larger track, you can screw up on one end and try to make it up on the other. At Dover, if you make a mistake on one end you’re liable to make a mistake on the other if you try to race too hard and make the time up.”

Saturday: Practice

“All of our cars were obviously in race trim, so we were just trying to get some good long runs. We tried to work on cars driving better in traffic. That’s one thing we struggled with a bit, but it appears that everyone was fighting that. That’s pretty much tire grip level to the aero balance to the racetrack surface. It’s kind of those three things that create that. We’re not getting a lot of tire wear, so we’re not getting a lot of fall off. That means that you have a lot of fast laps throughout your fuel run without getting that fall off that you like.

“By what we saw yesterday, everyone got behind somebody and pretty much ran the same speed as the car in front of them. It will be a about good pit stops and executing your strategy all day. You look at what the Truck Series did there on Friday and the XFINITY Series did on Saturday and it showed. I think it’s going to be tough for a lot of drivers. The drivers who are disciplined and can hit their marks every time and work that person in front of them will prevail. I think if you’re too tight all day you won’t be able to go anywhere.”

Sunday: Race

“We sure looked good in the first 50 to 80 laps there. We had a mechanical failure on the No. 14 car there, which was just saddening because he had a great car this weekend. It’s frustrating because we might have been able to prevent it. The No. 4 car was just caught all day and caught pitting under green, which got them behind at the end of the race. Kurt motored right up to the front, but got in a wreck racing for the lead. At that point, it was at least exciting because his car was up front running where it needed to be and cut a tire later due to some damage from the wreck. That was a really good racetrack for him and he had a great car all weekend.

“The cars were all loose across the board this weekend. With the new aero package and reduction of downforce it makes it tough. It’s a racetrack that picks up rubber, and when you put the tire on top of the rubber you would think it makes it sticky, but it really makes it slick. It makes the cars bounce a bit too. You get a third of the way into the race and it becomes a handful.”