Dover set to host roar of NASCAR thunder April 26-28


DOVER — This is the time of the year when Miles the Monster’s heart starts to beat a little louder and his pulse begins to race.

While the NASCAR Cup Series competes at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Sunday, the early birds will have already found parking spots for their recreational vehicles and campers in the lots surrounding Dover Motor Speedway, site of a NASCAR tripleheader from Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28.

Mike Tatoian, president of Dover Motor Speedway, said the crescendo of race weekend has been steadily building over the past couple of months.

And now, drivers such as defending Dover winner Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, and all the others, will be descending on the state capital not long after the checkered flag is waved at Talladega.

“There’s just a ton of momentum and a lot of excitement,” Mr. Tatoian said. “This time of the year, as the grass starts to turn green, race weekend comes around.

“Things are heating up and the property is getting ready for our big weekend. Everything is going great.”
Dover’s race weekend will be highlighted by the Wurth 400 Cup Series race that will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.

It will be preceded by the BetRivers 200 Xfinity Series race at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, while the General Tire 150 ARCA Menards Series race will kick things off on Friday, April 26, at 5 p.m.

There have been several exciting Cup Series races so far this season and Mr. Tatoian is expecting that trend to continue at the track known as “The Monster Mile.”

“I think there’s some great momentum going on with the sport and really it’s the product on the track,” Mr. Tatoian said. “Really, it’s difficult because each track has its own physical challenges for the cars and the drivers. But I think that’s what makes this sport unique in that it isn’t the same track in the same configuration week after week.

“There’s so much that goes into preparing the car for the race weekend, which includes the weather, the surface, the type of track, and I think that’s what makes it exciting.”

Fan Zone fun abounds

Even if a person doesn’t have a ticket to watch the racing, there will also be plenty of entertainment all weekend long at the Fan Zone, which takes up eight acres of property.

One of the things that Mr. Tatoian and his staff take pride in is their ability to bring new and unique things to Dover.

After all, the world’s largest rubber duck will be at the epicenter of the Fan Zone, the hospitality area for fans located just outside of the grandstands in turn three, home of the famous Miles the Monster statue.
Mr. Tatoian said getting all the details together is a labor of love for his team.

“We love putting this together because it’s as much fun to curate it as it is to see our fans enjoy it,” he said. “I never thought that we would get anything that would be bigger than Miles, but the rubber duck is taller than Miles. I certainly would, if they were ever to come alive and get into a fight, put my money on Miles.

“It’s just one of those elements that contributes to the fun of race weekend.”

The 60-foot-tall, 15.5-ton yellow duck will join Miles and will tower over the Fan Zone throughout Dover’s NASCAR weekend.

“We do take a lot of pride in our sport,” said Mr. Tatoian. “The product on the track is really that of the sanctioning body (NASCAR) and of the teams and they create that excitement on the track, and our job is to equal that excitement everywhere else — in our campground and in our Fan Zone.

“We do take a lot of pride and we have a lot of fun in curating a Fan Zone which we try to hit all age groups from young to old, folks that have been here for maybe 30 or 40 years, and fans that are coming onto our property for the very first time.”

The Fan Zone opens at noon on Friday, April 26, and at 9 on the following Saturday and Sunday mornings.

It will feature a plethora of musical acts, state fair-style food options, a NASCAR Kids Zone, a petting zoo, bumper cars, Hollywood-themed show cars, Micro Professional Wrestling, a cornhole tournament that will be the centerpiece of Saturday’s Monster Mile Bash, axe throwing and Monster Truck rides (for a fee) — and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Kent County Tourism is sponsoring a fireworks show Saturday night at 9.

Race fans will be able to get an up-close glimpse of their favorite drivers April 28 at the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza.

Kyle Busch will be appearing in front of Miles the Monster on Sunday, April 28, at 11 a.m., followed by Mr. Byron at 11:30 a.m., and 11-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson and four-time Dover victor Mr. Truex at 11:45 a.m.

NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Dale Inman, NASCAR Hall of Famers who won 188 races and seven championships together as a driver and crew chief, will be appearing at noon, as will Donnie Allison.

“We jam a lot of stuff in and I think it’s our way of really entertaining the fans and making it a weekend more than just a coming to the race,” said Mr. Tatoian. “Our thing is, come to the Fan Zone and stay for the race — meaning you may have as much fun in the Fan Zone as you will watching the race. We’ve got a great lineup.”

Drivers, start your engines

Mr. Tatoian has certainly taken notice as new names are suddenly taking charge and leading the sport into its’ next era.

There have been six different winners in the first nine races, led by Mr. Byron’s three victories while Mr. Hamlin has won twice.

“That’s the challenge for our sanctioning body is to be able to build a car that provides great racing on different surfaces and different types of tracks, and that’s not an easy thing to do, but this year it seems like every weekend we’re seeing some really great racing and some great finishes,” said Mr. Tatoian. “We expect that to continue next weekend.”

Dover is a racetrack where even the drivers feel a greater sensation of speed by dipping down into 24-degree banked turns for 400 miles.

“We love being able to say we’re the world’s fastest one-mile, concrete oval, and there really isn’t anything like it in our industry,” Mr. Tatoian said. “It’s very unique with the 24-degree (banking) in the turns and 9 degrees in the straightaways.”

Miles the Monster also tends to have an appetite for destruction at times, seemingly reaching out and knocking cars into the speedway’s SAFER barriers, Mr. Tatoian pointed out.

“I think when you talk to most, if not all the drivers, it’s called the ‘Monster’ for a reason and it loves to eat cars, but it’s a great place for fans to watch the race,” he said. “You’re really sitting right on top of the action, and you can see 100% of the action, 100% of the time.

“There’s always monster mayhem on the track. So, the excitement that we deliver in the Fan Zone, that kind of transfers to the inside so (the fans) get to see a great race, so it’s awesome.”

Staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at 302-741-8230 or
Follow @MikeFinneyDSN on X.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.