The Callahan Report: Time for a Schrader Win at Dover
29 May 1998
By Terry Callahan
DOVER, DE: The Dover Downs International Speedway is
covered with concrete. Trying to pick a favorite for the annual run at
Dover is as hard as the track surface itself. The Dover race has provided
surprises over the years. This year will be no different.
The Auto Channel
It has been a while since Kenny Schrader has visited victory lane. He knows the way to that prime piece of real estate at Dover. Schrader visited victory lane after the 1991 running of the race (then the Miller 500). The driver of the Skoal Monte Carlo was in the running last year too. Schrader finished sixth here in 1997. He has been knocking at the door all season. This could easily be the week for the man from Missouri to return to the winner's circle. Schrader is the favorite this weekend.
Keep an eye on Mark Martin as well. Martin has been a series favorite for quite some time. He is now becoming a very serious threat to visit victory lane anywhere he goes. Mark Martin finished second in Dover last year behind a fuel conserving Ricky Rudd. Martin stayed in the front most of the day in 97. He needs no tips on how to run this difficult track. Watch for the Valvoline Taurus to be a major player in Dover this weekend.
The rising star of the 1998 season is Jeremy Mayfield. He did well at Dover even before joining the powerful Penske Racing Team. Mayfield started back in the 25th spot in last year's race. He powered his way up to fourth at the end. With the organization of Penske behind him, and the talent in the driver's seat, Mayfield should be a force on the tough track in Delaware's state capital.
Bobby Labonte has proven he can run with any Ford or Chevy on the NASCAR circuit this year. Labonte, driving a Pontiac, does not have the luxury of comparing notes with a teammate like so many of the successful stars on the circuit today. It doesn't seem to matter to the Texas native as he has already notched victories this season. He won the pole at Dover two years ago. The younger Labonte brother should be fast from start to finish at Dover Downs.
Jeff Gordon put on a frightening display of power in Charlotte last weekend. He blew past everything in sight in the last ten laps of the Coca-Cola 600. After struggling in selected races earlier this season, the Ray Evernham led Rainbow Warriors seem to have found the things that made them so successful last year. Gordon has won at Dover before. With the new found power from last weekend, the Jeff Gordon dominance may return at Dover and elsewhere on the NASCAR circuit. Gordon has the series points lead and will be driving to keep it. He will be striving for points and wins for the rest of the 1998 NASCAR season. Dover could be the beginning of his march to a third Winston Cup title.
And now for the surprise. Michael Waltrip is still trying to score a points paying victory in NASCAR. Dover is a track suited to Waltrip's racing style. He has proven to be a threat at this track by virtue of his seventh place finish here last year. Waltrip is long overdue for victory. Since Dover is a track noted for producing surprise winners, Waltrip is a great candidate for the Dover darkhorse.
The MBNA 400 airs on TNN this Sunday at noon ET. The drivers will be going for an estimated purse of $1.7 million.
Callahan's Picks for Dover:
1. Ken Schrader
2. Mark Martin
3. Jeremy Mayfield
4. Bobby Labonte
5. Jeff Gordon
Darkhorse: Michael Waltrip
Agree or Disagree? Send comments to Terry Callahan at The Auto Channel.