One thing that has become very apparent this year, something that no one really anticipated would be possible one weekend much less two, was the idea of having the double-header weekends. Heading into the season, everyone knew Pocono Raceway was going to take the unprecedented step of holding two races in one weekend, nearly 700 miles on the engines.
Then Covid hit, and the schedule got very different. Sure, a couple tracks held races back-to-back, but not on consecutive days.
Pocono was the weekend to determine how good a double-header could be. That said, doing so with not one spectator in the stands maybe did not exactly showcase the potential for the area businesses that could not host fans, but it did show how strong these teams can be. It was the first weekend the field had to be ready to have a backup car prepared in case the primary was done after the first event.
Overall, Pocono was a strong success.
Then came Michigan, a much different animal with the higher speeds, the wide surface, and the different strategies.
But, the same rules applied there with how to go from one race to the next, and even with the different layout, and the shorter distances for the races just as with Pocono, it was a success all across the board. Although the other 39 teams were wishing they were victorious, since one car ultimately was the one to beat at the end of the day.
Now, another double-header is on tap, and this one to me is the most challenging of them all.
The biggest change away from the new venue…the setup. The cars this weekend are going to have the shorter splitters, and much smaller spoilers. The monster of a track has that name for a reason…it is a monster to get a handle on. Add in this setup and it reminds us all of a few years ago when although the crew at the shop, and at the track, were important, in the end it was a driver’s track. This is a place where you actually DRIVE the track, and muscle your way to the front.
Dover is a place that shows who can truly muscle a car around here, and make Miles cry when he is tamed, or caged perhaps.
Many years ago, races here were 500 miles, and drivers were exhausted at the end of the afternoon. Even after being shortened to 400 miles, the spent feeling was seen across the board. This is a place that no one can say is an easy ride, because one race here will mean tired muscles and burnt calories.
This weekend’s festivities are a pair of 311-mile sprints, and although shorter, combined will make every driver be glad they are only seeing this concrete speedway one weekend this year rather than two.
So does this mean Miles has an opportunity for an indulgence weekend on metal, oil, and rubber? Perhaps, but in the end someone is going to have one, or two, trophies where they hold Miles in their hands, rather than watch Miles hold their car in his.
Of course, Jimmie Johnson can’t say the latter, since his car is already in the big hand of Miles before the weekend began.